Improving life for the elderly on the Baltic Islands

VIRTU – Virtual Elderly Care Services on Baltic Islands - has improved the lives of elderly people living in remote islands in the Baltic Sea. The three-year ERDF-funded initiative encouraged healthy, safe and enriching home living as a viable alternative to institutionalisation.

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The VIRTU system at work! Technology allow elderly people living in remote areas to interact with the wider community. © Janina Sjostrand, Novia University of Applied Sciences The VIRTU system at work! Technology allow elderly people living in remote areas to interact with the wider community. © Janina Sjostrand, Novia University of Applied Sciences

" I was unsure how to use the screen at first, but it turned out to be very easy. You just touch it to do different things... I have been in broadcasts where we have found out how to borrow sight aid equipment, played bingo, met the mayor and the local priest and played memory games. The kindergarten children have even sang for us! "

Kaja, 88-year-old living in Eckerö

VIRTU developed a service model to help elderly people living in the archipelago, by utilising welfare technology to support their social interaction and ability to live at home, improve their quality of life and increase their feeling of security. The service benefited not only senior citizens, but their relatives, municipalities and health and social care professionals.

Taking an active part in life

Users could interact through audio and video transmissions on the so-called VIRTU channel, where they also participated in discussions on various topics of interest and could even take exercise and singing lessons. Outside of the scheduled broadcasts, the VIRTU channel offered the opportunity to keep in touch with other users, such as peers or care staff.

The Universities of applied sciences in Finland and Åland, development centres in Estonia and various municipalities produced a multitude of services and interactive programmes, ranging from quizzes to physical activities for the VIRTU channel. Interactive content was also produced by entrepreneurs and companies.

The overall aim of the service model was to support and supplement already existing municipal services, not to replace them.  

Moreover, by looking closely at the content of the service model and the usability and adaptability of the virtual services as well as the experiences of seniors and employees, the project partners were able to determine the cost-effectiveness and productivity of the service and make improvements.

At least 18 students wrote their bachelor theses on the VIRTU project, showing the impact the project has had on the wider community.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the “Virtual Elderly Care Services on the Baltic Islands (VIRTU)” project is EUR 2 185 370 of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 1 661 080 from the Operational Programme “Central Baltic” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.


Draft date

19/08/2015