Reference Sites are innovation ecosystems delivering creative and workable solutions to improve the lives and health of older people. They comprise different players, including regional government authorities, cities, hospitals/ care organisations, industry, SMEs, start-ups, research and innovation organisations and civil society.
Together, they implement a comprehensive, innovation-based approach for the development, implementation, transfer and scaling-up of innovative practices for active and healthy ageing across Europe.
Reference Sites are a recognition granted by the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP on AHA), an initiative of the European Commission aiming to increase the average healthy lifespan by two years by 2020, to improve health and quality of life, increase sustainability of healthcare systems, as well as boosting European competitiveness.
Reference Sites shall provide solid evidence of their impact on the areas where they have been implemented or generated good practices, using robust indicators for assessment. Likewise, they must demonstrate the innovative components of their care model or healthcare system that could serve as an example of good practices for other European regions.
Basque Reference Site
The Basque Country has been recognised as a Reference Site in 2013. The Basque Country Reference Site brings together an alliance of players including the Basque Government (Health and Employment and Social Policy Departments); the Provincial Council of Bizkaia; Osakidetza, the Basque National Health Service; the University of Deusto; the University of the Basque Country; Fundación Matia; TECNALIA; IK4; Corporación Mondragón; and Kronikgune.
They collaboratively work in developing innovative solutions and are pioneering some of the most advanced innovative solutions to improve the lives of an ageing population. This collaboration has allowed these organisations to create strong links between them as well as to share good practices and build collaboration across borders in a way that maximizes outcomes and reduces risks associated to investing in innovation.
In July 2016 the European Commission awarded the Basque Country the highest rating (four stars) as Reference Site for its outstanding work and comprehensive and innovative approach to active and healthy ageing. The Basque Country is one of the eight European Reference Sites to have received the four stars recognition.
Basque Country approach to active and healthy ageing
To tackle the challenge of ageing and well-being, the Basque Country has developed a global approach where all stakeholders play a significant role. The Basque healthcare model is based on prevention and health promotion, patients’ empowerment and adherence to treatment, as well as contributing to enhanced integrated healthcare. It aims to improve healthcare focused on the patient through better coordination and continuity of care among different service levels.
The Basque Country has set out a framework for the transfer of innovation knowledge between sectors. Work is in progress to address sustainability and foster innovation in healthcare, promote health technological areas and opportunities for economic growth and employment with the creation of new markets.
Euskadi Reference Site is based on the Basque Government strategic vision towards the challenge of ageing, chronicity and dependency (Healthcare Plan 2013-2020, the Basque Ageing strategy 2015-2020, the Health Department strategic lines; Digital Agenda and others), which has provided dedicated backup, distributed leadership as well as created capabilities in organisations to transform the healthcare and social care system in the region. It reflects European commitment through participation in multiple European projects and networks of collaboration in different sectors.
Euskadi Reference Site activities cover all pillars of the European strategy reflected in EIP on AHA and encompass a set of good practices.
Good Practice 1: REHACOP and KINEAGE projects
Two initiatives of the University of Deusto are recognised as good practices:
- REHACOP: it is a pioneering neuropsychological rehabilitation programme for the treatment of cognitive problems (attention, learning, memory, language, executive functions, etc.) affecting patients suffering from disorders such as schizophrenia or psychosis.
- KINEAGE: adapted kinect game for physical exercise and fun. The solution comprises a serious game in 3D to help the elderly exercise while having fun. It can be used in wheelchairs and it can be adapted to the particular patient’s needs.
Good Practice 2: Euskadi Lagunkoia
Euskadi Lagunkoia is an initiative promoted by the Basque Government Department of Employment and Social Policies and the Provincial Council of Bizkaia with the support of the Fundación Matia and the University of Deusto, in particular through its Interdisciplinary Research Platform on Health and Wellbeing. The aims of Euskadi Lagunkoia are to:
- make the most of elderly people’s potential in the life of the Basque Country towns and villages and generate well-being;
- create and foster community participation processes;
- create a network of “friendly” initiatives in the Basque Country; and
- facilitate the introduction of changes in environments and improve citizens’ quality of life.
Good Practice 3: Integrated Care Strategy
Integrated care is a key element of the Basque healthcare strategy. Work has been underway for several years with the aim of improving the health and quality of life of Basque country patients and citizens, carrying out preventive actions, fostering patients’ empowerment and creating personalised plans for patients. This strategy has created an integrated care model focused on people and patients, providing continuity of care both at health and social care levels. They have implemented new structures, processes and tools that help meeting patients’ health needs, with a high degree of efficiency and coordination between healthcare professionals and social workers.
Key components of this good practice are:
- the creation of Integrated Health Organisations (IHO);
- integrating communication systems;
- using risk stratification tools and healthcare plans based on the needs of complex patients;
- introducing new nursing roles;
- social-health coordination;
- patient’s empowerment and self-care plan; and
- integrated action plans targeted at different groups/population.