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 do not 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 platform, “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 to 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.
The City of Barcelona conducted a pilot of Vincles and is now working with developers and elderly people to strengthen both the technology and the associated support systems. The City will expand the service to two neighborhoods in late 2016 before beginning to roll-out the program at scale in 2017.