By 2040, one in four Barcelona residents will be over 65. As people age their social networks weaken, resulting in fewer human interactions. This not only reduces quality of life, but also creates a healthcare burden: lonely and isolated individuals are more likely to develop health complications. Family, friends, volunteers, and professional caregivers want to support elderly citizens, but they don’t have a way to coordinate with one another to make sure seniors are being cared for and engaged on an ongoing basis.
The city will create a digital app, “Vincles,” that brings together and coordinates the support of friends, family members, neighbors, and professional care givers around at-risk seniors. By design, Vincles will help answer practical questions: Who is picking up groceries? Who is free to change a light bulb? Whose responsibility is it to call our senior neighbor two or three times this month? The digital platform will make these roles clear and help coordinate among the different members of the “trust network,” reducing social isolation and health risks by helping to facilitate more in-person interactions.
After working with elderly residents to test and refine their approach, Barcelona launched a citywide roll-out of Vincles in January 2017. It is now active in five neighborhoods and will continue to expand throughout the year.