Elderly People’s Programme

A programme that helps to improve quality of life for elderly people, promoting their autonomy and social participation, especially in situations of greater vulnerability

Matia Instituto Gerontológico

1. Challenge

Living longer and better is excellent news but brings with it new and inevitable challenges to which society must respond, prominently including the future of care.

In 2014, the European Health Survey reported that 20.73% of people aged 65 and over have difficulties carrying out certain basic everyday life activities, with the percentage of people needing help increasing to 53.68% among people aged over 85 years.

Among people aged 65 and over, women have a greater life expectancy than men (23.4 against 19.2 years), but a lower healthy life expectancy (9.0 against 9.7 years).

In Spain, the percentage of people older than 65 years who live in single-person households increases through the ageing process, with 21.1% of men and 40.9% of women aged over 85 years eventually living alone. There are over 4.5 million people who care for others altruistically (with 15.5% of these carers being aged over 65 years) in addition to hundreds of thousands of household helps (majority of immigrant women).

2. Action

“Putting people first: caring as we would like to be cared for ourselves” is a participatory researchaction process relating to the future of care in Spain.

Obra Social “la Caixa”, with the collaboration of the Matia Gerontological Institute, has launched various actions to study the opinions and social perceptions that exist relating to care and dependency in old age, through:

  1. An exhaustive review of the scientific bibliography that exists, as well as various international experiences in the world of care.

  2. A qualitative study on care in relations of dependency.

  3. A study with a sample of 4,784 people through an online questionnaire for professionals and carers on their opinions regarding responsibilities in care processes.

  4. Various in-depth interviews with academic experts, professionals and staff from the non-profit sector.

  5. Four sessions for reflection and debate in Girona, Malaga, Madrid and Bilbao.

3. Results

The “Putting people first: caring as we would like to be cared for ourselves” charter is the result of this wide-ranging process that aims to raise awareness regarding care that affects our lifestyles and coexistence.

“Putting people first and caring for them as we would like to be cared for ourselves” means we should:

  • Put ourselves in the place of others (whether the carer or the person receiving care).

  • Treat them with dignity and respect for their rights, which are the basis of good treatment.

  • Encourage their autonomy, respect their self-determination, maintain their responsibilities regarding their own lives and the right to receive support.

  • Encourage co-responsibility in care tasks.

  • Treat people taking into account not just their physical, but also their cognitive, emotional and spiritual needs, etc., all of which form the basis for comprehensive care.

  • Train, accompany and support carers, also in the dispensing of palliative care.

  • Encourage participation and raise the visibility of care.