The final conference for the EMPOWERCARE Project has shared its insights and innovative solutions to support individuals and communities manage their own care.

Held virtually, the conference brought together representatives from all 13 project partners based across the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, and France, along with representatives from local government, health professions, care organisations and technology developers.

EMPOWERCARE was a four million Euros project funded by EU Interreg 2 Seas. The two-year technological and social innovation project sought to address the current gaps in the care of people aged 65 plus, or 50 plus with at least one chronic health condition, and empower people to take more responsibility for their care using technology and local services to keep them healthy and motivated.

The conference shared the main project outputs:

  • An empowerment strategy to deliver what matters to individuals and communities in managing their own care, and a workforce transformation package to upskill the adult social care workforce.
  • A technology blueprint on initiatives and technology that support enablement at individual and community level. Informed by partners testing different technologies in co-production with the target group.
  • A comprehensive evaluation of the EMPOWERCARE approach, conducted by Canterbury Christ Church University researchers, to outline the benefits and key outcomes of the project.

The evaluation findings highlight that the project’s approach had a positive impact on end-users. They experienced improved levels of self-efficacy and digital literacy in managing their own health, as well as reduced levels of emotional and social loneliness.

Professor Eleni Hatzidimitriadou, lead for the Canterbury Christ Church University evaluation team and Professor of Community Psychology and Public Mental Health.

Some of the key findings from the project include:

  • An increase in belief and confidence in ‘inactive’ participants so that they were able to take action over their own health.
  • Positive effect in tackling end-user loneliness.

“It helped me to get out of my loneliness. My doctor told me ‘You mustn't stay like that', but he didn't tell me what to do. Now I know I can count on someone; it breaks my isolation. I can call my nurse, the young people from Unicity, my housekeeper. I can count on these people. I have a little list in my notebook.” (French end user)

  • Those participating in the initiatives felt more digitally literate and confident in using technology for their physical and mental health needs, and to keep connected with their social networks.

“I found the sessions really helpful. They have given me more confidence to try out new apps on my phone. I enjoy using the tablet that has been loaned to me. I have also learnt about how to recognise a scam and what to do if I receive a scam email or message on Facebook.” (UK end user)

  • Workforce staff experienced higher levels of person-centred practice and technology uptake due to transformative workforce training.

I love my work here, I can really take the time to look together with others for the added value of self-reliance. Whatever this may be for a person, because empowering is different for everyone.” (Belgian member of the workforce)

  • Social return on investment analysis suggested that initiatives were ‘value for money’ with 77% willing to pay towards an initiative. People were willing to pay up to £40 per month, which is generally more than the cost of a monthly gym membership.
  • Legacy analysis suggests that community social cohesion and sustained intergenerational contact will be essential to counter potential adverse influence on wellbeing of future generations.

All of the output documents will be made publicly available once finalised and will be available via EMPOWERCARE Project or via the Virtual Skill Lab:

EU Interreg 2 Seas and project logo

Notes to Editors

  • Keynote speakers at the conference included Professor Panagiotis Bamidis, Director of the Lab of Medical Physics and Digital Innovation, School of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, who discussed Patient Empowerment: challenges and opportunities and Peter Julius, CEO and Partner of Public Intelligence, Denmark, who discussed Public Intelligence.
  • The EMPOWERCARE project was awarded more than 4 million Euros of European Regional Development Funding via the Interreg VA 2Seas programme in 2020.
  • The project, involving 13 partners from the UK, Netherlands, France and Belgium, aimed to fully involve older people in decisions concerning their own health and wellbeing, and provide the right support to enable them to remain in their homes, assisted by their local community. EMPOWERCARE addressed the issues facing communities in caring for the growing ageing population, by bringing together existing, proven solutions, including innovative technologies, from across all project partners.