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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
In this issue
Europeans are living longer and the ageing of societies affects the future sustainability of health and long-term care systems. The share of the population aged 65 and over in the EU-28 - 96 million people (18.9%) in 2015 - is growing and is expected to reach 125.3 million (23.9%) by 2030. The number of very old people – aged 80 and over – is expected to rise to 37.7 million from 26.8 (2015), and their share to 7.2% from 5.3 % (Eurostat population projections).
Population ageing will influence the demand for health and care services, and thus the sustainability of the welfare system, in three interrelated ways. First, a higher number of older people will be cared for by a proportionately smaller number of carers or health workers, and therefore there will be a rise in unmet needs. Second, health and care needs will also change, as more people live longer with chronic conditions, such as dementia, which require professional management. Thus the possibility of unmet needs will be increased even further. Third, health and social care providers will have to satisfy increasingly demanding customers, who expect personalised and customised services.
In all these cases, social innovation, and in particular ICT-enabled social innovation, can provide effective solutions and reduce the gap between the supply and demand for care. ICTs boost the matching process between service supply and demand by better targeting and identifying beneficiaries and their specific needs. Through improved payment mechanisms, ICTs can also generate cost savings. Rather than cutting back on services or surrendering to the idea of not being able to satisfy the care needs of a growing segment of the population, governments can take advantage of ICT-enabled social innovation to transform the way health and social care services are integrated and delivered.
This issue of JRC Insights presents results from the analysis of initiatives and case studies on ICT-enabled social innovations promoting social investment in the field of Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA) conduct