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Short Form: HELPS
Full name: Housing and Home-care for the Elderly and vulnerable people and Local Partnership Strategies in Central
Priority: Competitiveness
Area of Intervention: 4.2 Addressing the Territorial Effects of Demographic and Social Change on Urban and Regional Development
Duration: October 2011 – September 2014 (36 months)
Total budget:
ERDF contribution:
€ 2.670.229,00
€ 2.133.975,35

Friuli Venezia Giulia Autonomous Region – Central Directorate for health, social health integration and social policies (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, IT), Samaritan Burgenland (Burgenland, AT), Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (Praha, CZ), German Association for Housing, Urban and Spatial Development (Berlin, DE), City of Leipzig (Sachsen, DE), Municipality of the City of Debrecen (Eszak-Alfold, HU), Hungarian Maltese Charity Service (Kozep-Magyarorszag, HU), Veneto Region, Department of Social Services, Unit for People with Disabilities (Veneto, IT), Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry Polish Academy of Sciences – Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (Wielkopolskie, PL), Slovenian Federation of Pensioners’ Organizations (, SI), Association of Towns and Communities of Slovakia (Bratislavsky, SK), Institute for Sociology Slovak Academy of Sciences (Bratislavsky, SK)

Lead partner: Friuli Venezia Giulia Autonomous Region – Central Directorate for health, social health integration and social policies (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, IT)
Lead partner country: Italy



HELPS – Description
Europe is witnessing deep socio-demographic changes, namely the progressive ageing of its population. Elderly and vulnerable persons are increasingly at risk of social exclusion in urban areas due to the impoverishment of family and social linkages and significant infrastructure constraints. At present, the institutionalization of elderly and persons with disabilities presents some critical aspects, such as the homologation of care solutions, in spite of different needs, and the isolation from the social life of the community. Total ageing-related spending is projected to increase in the European Union by 4.75% of GDP by 2060 (DG SANCO).This trend represents a threat to the sustainability and efficiency of healthcare systems, with consequences on the rights of the most vulnerable persons, and on the social cohesion. The general objective of the project HELPS is to promote development strategies and practices to improve the quality of life of vulnerable groups with a strategic focus on elderly and people with disabilities in urban areas in central Europe.


HELPS – Objectives
HELPS specific objective is to develop and consolidate innovative housing and care solutions by supporting models of integrated local governance orientated policies, products and services. The project proposes a process-oriented innovation focusing on the effective coordination of different actors (Public Private Partnership) for the successful management and provision of key public services for the common good. In particular, local synergies are to be strengthened for the social integration and the active and healthy life of the elderly and vulnerable people. The information should be easily accessed through the development of key services and new technologies. The accessibility of daily life spaces in housing design within an urban planning adapted to the needs of social inclusion, thus impacting urban and regional development policies will be promoted. As a result,patterns of interaction among local actors,knowledge,and resources will be structured to develop the most appropriate living environment and care for the elderly and vulnerable people,while benefitting the families and society.


HELPS – Expected Result
Through the direct involvement of neighborhood communities in the development of citizenship active forms to reduce social/spatial segregation of the elderly and vulnerable persons project will encourage the citizens’ participation at early stages of local decision-making which will help to develop the most appropriate living environment and care for the elderly and vulnerable people, while benefitting the families and society. Project’s Strategy of policy integration and innovative interventions will be articulated on three intertwined levels: 1) The individual and the environment. Planning and realization of living spaces and urban infrastructures that are accessible for and adapted to all, in particular to the elderly but not only, through new technologies able to reduce spatial isolation; 2) The individual and society. Delivery of quality care services and decrease in social segregation of vulnerable groups through social and community networks at neighborhood level able to involve different stakeholders; 3) The individual and the public services. Enhancement of social cohesion and financial sustainability of services through new models for the organization and management of both public and private resources allocated for the care of vulnerable groups.


HELPS – Activities
Summary of activities:
Tackling demographic change is getting more and more demanding, also because the global economic crisis has shaken our welfare model.Time and resources are getting short:it is urgent that all involved stakeholders get committed to build a new,more sustainable welfare system.The main goal of HELPS (Housing and Home-care for the Elderly and vulnerable people and Local Partnership Strategies in Central European) project is to face this challenge.The key objective is to improve the quality of life of vulnerable people in Central European cities,with a particular focus on elderly and persons with disabilities.If the multidisciplinary approach can be seen as one of the paths to the social innovation,HELPS fully explores the potential of a multi-sectorial and integrated approach.Health,social innovation and housing issues are faced by combining research studies with practical activity,namely Pilot Actions.

Helps research study successfully ended on March 2013.The study included a comparativeanalysis of contextual factors of social and housing policies and best innovative practices over eight central European countries.Core part of the research activity are the Catalogue of Practices,the final Recommendations Working Paper and the Main Findings Report.These outputs give proof of how, nowadays, autonomous and active life, adequate social relationships, tailor-made care services,and accessible and decent daily life spaces are not granted to increasingly larger portions of population in Central Europe.

Helps Pilot Actions are disseminated over eight different countries (Italy,Germany,Hungary,Slovenia,Slovakia,Czech Republic,Poland,Austria).Key factors in common are:the support of public-private partnership and the transition from institutional care to community-based care.We can distinguish three macro-areas of application.1)New housing solutions.The Pilot Actions taking place in Trieste(IT) explore innovative co-housing solutions, leading to a trans-generational approach and to the implementation of a Formal Contract for Solidarity.In Germany,the Municipality offers a permanent exhibition on assistive solutions for an easier everyday living.2)New technologies for better care.The Pilot Actions involving Hungary,Slovakia and Poland test a broader/innovative application of ICT tools both in training for formal/informal caregivers and in raising awareness among beneficiaries/families.3)Open access to information.Access to information plays a key role in fighting urban social isolation.In Lubiana(SLO),the new dedicated info point has become very popular among citizens and professionals.In Brno(CZ),the thorough housing needs survey will provide local administrators with precious data for future policies.In Weppersdorf(AT),the Samaritan Burgenland is testing an innovative ICT environment for the elderly residing in its integrated supervised flats,helping people to remain active as well as staying socially connected.