City of Castelo Branco seeks for solutions for the provision of proximity services to the population located in low density territories, by promoting and preserving elderly people’s quality of life.
The identified challenge is the provision of proximity services to elderly populations located in low density territories, being directly related with demo-graphical emptying, isolation and its consequences for the quality of life of these population.
Castelo Branco municipality is in the central interior of Portugal. With a population of approximately 54 thousand residents, about 62% of the municipality’s population is located in the municipality’s central parish, Castelo Branco. 25% of this city’s population is over 65 years old, and 65% of the Municipality’s parishes have less than a thousand residents.
In demographical terms, the municipality has lost about 3% of its population in the last 10 years, while the parishes lost on average 15% of their population - whether to other cities or to the municipality’s other locations.
The loss of critical mass – demographical, social, economic and even institutional – in this territory affects the maintenance of minimum levels of territory occupation, making the costs grow for the maintenance of infrastructures and the consequent degradation of equality in opportunities and in living conditions.
Facing this, the autarchy has been looking for solutions for the optimization and rationalization of proximity services – social infrastructure, consumer services, distributive infrastructure – with the purpose of promoting and assuring quality of life and well-being to the population located in low density territories, mainly the elderly. Among these services there are mail deliveries, transportation, commerce or even food services, to education, culture and leisure, and even public administration services and the right to participation and full citizenship. The focus of this challenge is the isolated and aged population looking for solutions for the establishment of specific measures allowing the elderly to continue to be an integral part of society. Different types of innovative social solutions that is able to hamper one of more aspect of this challenge will be considered.
The city council has the necessary competences to implement and support new solutions
that could be identified, understanding that these have an optimization
and rationalization of services aspect using new technologies.
Castelo Branco municipality is located in the Center region of Portugal in Beira Baixa.
The targeted public for this challenge is the municipality’s population that lives in the low density areas of the municipality, namely the parishes that have been showing significant population loss in the last years. In these locations, the resident population is mainly elderly ((=/< 65 years old), economically inactive, and with high level of isolation and economic dependence. Therefore, it is a part of population that needs health care and to which we should define interventions on a social, economic and environmental level. This group was chosen due to its particular vulnerability to the demographical emptying phenomenon and consequent loss of essential services on their area of residence, which reflects itself on a disintegration of this population from society. These isolated and aged population centers demand the establishment of specific measures and their context within a socially global political set, allowing the elderly to continue to be an integral part of society.
Castelo Branco City Council presents in its strategic plan for the social network a clear focus on the ageing issue, directly related with the quality of life of elderly people and the problematic on low density of this territory. The municipality has been fostering networking with a set of strategic partners for this area, so the challenge is perfectly aligned with the municipality’s vision and strategy.
In 2016, the municipality developed a plan and activities for active ageing with the aim of promoting and preserving elderly people’s quality of life. On an educational level, there is evidence of results from elderly people’s enrollment in “Senior University”. It also strategic to involve the elderly people that are further away from the locations that have larger population density.
Castelo Branco City Council will provide its human resources to support this challenge, as well as its partners’ network for Social Action.
The autarchy, in addition to providing services to the target populations, has been looking to find solutions to stimulate the provision of public services and the attraction of private services, including support from local entrepreneurs. We highlight the need to find social solutions that will come to be applied in this context.
Now is looking for new technological solutions to optimize the provision of proximity services to the elderly population of low density territories within the municipality, focusing on the development of innovation that is oriented and centered on the improvement of citizens’ quality of living. ICT solutions are primarily targeted as well as the 4.0 industry that are applicable and adaptable to the context in question.
Castelo Branco City Council has focused its strategic plan and knowledge to the de-population reality and the difficulties faced by the elderly people located in the region. The Council also provides its network of partners for this topic. Castelo Branco City Council also makes available its technological know-how coming from the startups that constitute the Centro de Empresas Inovadoras (Innovative Business Center), an incubator that is run by Castelo Branco Municipality. The municipality’s financial situation is well-consolidated, and there is the possibility of financial contributions for the resolution and implementation of this challenge. The entity also assures the vast promotion of this initiative and its results.
The cooperation can be maintained through the support to the solution’s maintenance and sustainability through time. In the future the developed solution and the respective methodology can be replicated in other geographical intervention areas, with the Municipality ensuring that cooperation is highlighted through the dissemination of the solution to other regions with similar territorial characteristics.