MAZE has partnered with Área Metropolitana do Porto to promote dignifying ageing in the northern region of Portugal - MAZE - Decoding Impact

MAZE has partnered with Área Metropolitana do Porto to promote dignifying ageing in the northern region of Portugal

O Aproxima é um programa que pretende apoiar municípios no desenho de respostas para a população idosa, nomeadamente no combate à solidão e na promoção de um envelhecimento digno.

Partnering with Área Metropolitana do Porto (AMP), we created a programme to support AMP’s municipalities focused on designing answers that fight solitude and promote a healthy ageing process. The programme groups projects in fields as at-home support, digital literacy, data collection and management and companionship to the elder.

The percentage of residents in Portugal aged over 65 is 22%: one of the reasons for the largest share of older people in Portugal’s age pyramid relates to the country’s high life expectancy – one of the highest in Europe. At 65, one man can expect to live 18 years more, whereas a woman can expect to live 23 years more. However, if we observe the healthy life expectancy, women can live seven years more, with men living up to eight. Furthermore, Portugal ranks low when compared with other European countries on senior’s life quality. Hence, in Portugal, people live more, yet, precariously, especially in life’s later stage. 

Aware of these challenges, we developed a programme that supports AMP municipalities in designing new answers to ageing challenges. Ultimately, our goal is to offer a dignified and quality-rich life to the senior population while closely observing physical and mental health, economic conditions and social inclusion. Likewise, the public service’s answer capacity regarding the increase of the 65+ population will be observed, so more suitable solutions to novel and specific needs are created. The involved municipalities will be responsible for guaranteeing the projects implementing, looking in most cases, alternative solutions such as funding applications or corporate sponsorships. 

“The innovative projects that have emerged as an answer to the problems originated by the ageing of the population, isolation and consequences of the current pandemic, are felt and tackled mostly at a local municipal level. At AMP, we are focused on offering educational opportunities and invest in the acceleration of projects that fulfil effectively tackle these challenges. We count on MAZE, a long-lasting partnership, in supporting these social innovation initiatives. APROXIMA developed with MAZE’s support, whose goal of accelerating municipal projects that benefit our senior population is essential in the pandemic context. Valuing older people guarantees the welfare of this population, with a long, dignifying and healthy life.” 

Dr. Lino Ferreira, First-secretary of Porto’s Metropolitam Executive Comission.

APROXIMA’s programme hosts various projects such as: 

  • At-home support: guarantee that older people can safely stay at home and as long as possible. This need was already a priority to the participating municipalities, catalysed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The main focus is the creation of medical, personal hygiene and home hygiene support projects, including companionship, cognitive stimulation and technological support – to facilitate contact with family and friends. 
  • Digital literacy projects: hold a steady contact between seniors and their support networks, such as family & friends, including public services.
  • Data collection and management: understand the needs and wishes of the population to adapt social services answers. 
  • Elder citizen support: companionship through stories and tales narrated via the telephone to stimulate conversations with senior citizens. While fighting feelings of loneliness, we create a safe space for sharing concerns, emotions and the senior’s own stories. 

“Our goal with the support provided by us to AMP is helping them test new services with agility: we start by testing the service with small groups, incorporating the feedback they receive in real-time while focusing the attention on user experience and monitoring generated impact from the beginning. 

Margarida Anselmo, Head of Government Performance at MAZE.

The programme has two phases: on the first, which began in November 2020, we promoted six inspiring masterclasses that analyzed a specific area from the lens of longevity to bring new perspectives and creativity on the topic: economy, medicine, nutrition, purpose, death and design. In the second phase, which began in February 2021, each municipality started working on a field project with a four-week sprint methodology. This is a common method in acceleration, already tested in other MAZE programmes. After testing these solutions at a small scale in the maximum number of municipalities possible, these regions will share their outcomes among themselves. Moreover, the programme deems scaling the solutions which prove are efficient in supporting AMP’s senior population. 

Our partnership with AMP has several years and has demonstrated its relevance in strengthening the social innovation ecosystem in the region with the Amplifica acceleration programme and the AMP Fórum. 

Photo by Joseph Chan, available on Unsplash

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