Challenge completed
How can we effectively address the needs of the elderly considering their functional dependency

Description and Objectives

The increasing demand for social services of an ageing population, together with the predicted reduction in pensions in the future and the increase in housing prices, make it necessary to rethink the structures and distribution of these services, and find complementary or alternative models to residential care homes.

The City of Barcelona is launching the Social Challenge:

How can we effectively address the needs of the elderly, taking into account their functional dependency, within the framework of the Social Superblocks?

We are launching a call for proposals along the following lines:

  • Tested projects or proven methodologies that generate social cohesion, for example, activating the community to provide support to the elderly, strengthening social and solidarity economy models, intergenerational collaboration and integration mechanisms.
  • New technology and/or robotic solutions that enable a more effective identification of the needs of elderly people, improve the quality and delivery of social services, and the response time to meet those needs.


Scale of the problem

Almost 350.000 people ages 65 and older live in Barcelona and it is predicted that by 2038 there will be around 420.000, representing 25,5% of the population (forecasts by Idescat). In Barcelona, there are 13,000 places in residences for the elderly, with a waiting list of over 6,000 people. Some of the elderly population will need specialized in-home care, due to their physical and mental impairments. According to statistics, around 112,000 people in the city need assistance with their daily activity, 54,000 on a regular basis and 58,000 sporadically.


The City of Barcelona’s response

Barcelona currently responds to this issue with the Home Assistance Service, which has grown exponentially over the last 10 years with the entry into force of the Dependency Law as a universal right.

Currently almost 20,000 users receive this service from the City, through three companies that provide employment to about 3,800 family workers and cleaning staff, plus 900 more that cover staff on leave or replace those that leave.

The Home Assistance service is combined or complemented with other services such as telecare (90.000 users), the service of home delivery of meals, and the program Vincles, among others, as well as services financed by the Generalitat de Catalunya.

The third sector also collaborates actively with additional services, such as “Baixem al Carrer” (which benefits more than 4.000 people with functional dependency who live in flats without lift)

The Municipal Area of Social Rights is currently implementing the project Social Superblocks, which aims to divide the city into small territories, or human-scale neighbourhoods, that integrate the concept of virtual or distributed residence.

According to this idea, a person receives the services of a residential care home in their own home, and the neighbourhood, of a sufficiently small scale to consider people with functional dependence, supplies all the services that are commonly received in a residence, in a combination of public-private-social-family benefits, remunerated or on a voluntary basis, and with a progressive use of technologies.



To divide Barcelona into about 300 Social Superblocks of 6,000 inhabitants each, in order to provide quality, local services to the elderly, and in a second phase, expand the model to other areas of community well-being, such as baby care, childcare, culture and education, and new ways of addressing the problem of access to housing.

In the Social Superblocks, under a local governance system, people grow old in houses adapted to their functional and spatial needs, and receive the same services, regardless of their income level, with strong support, including emotional support, from the community, combining quality professional services with voluntary ones, at a reasonable cost, using the best technologies and promoting the co-responsibility of care workers and social workers.


“SOM Comunitat”

SOM Comunitat, whose name literally means "WE ARE Community” and is part of the URock company, is a platform that aims to improve care for the elderly and meet their social, healthcare and emotional needs by promoting local volunteering and creating a channel for the dissemination of services geared towards the elderly. By means of a website and an app for elderly people in each superblock, SOM Comunitat seeks to solve the problem of loneliness and unattended needs by using the power of the community and cohesion between generations without the need for a place in a residential care facility. Their technological platform for optimising operations is open to integration with artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT). Participation in the project will be open to volunteers (individuals or groups), Home Care Service staff or other professionals providing health-care services to the elderly.

Els guanyadors del repte i.lab per donar atenció efectiva a la gent gran, amb el comissionat Michael Donaldson.


Collaborating entities

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