THE IMPACT OF AAL IN THE NETHERLANDS AND SWITZERLAND
Switzerland and The Netherlands are two member countries of the AAL programme. They have released two publications that show the impact of our funding initiative in their countries and which showcase extraordinary examples of successful projects. Some of them are already in the market and are clearly delivering value for their economies and societies.
The publication produced by the Netherlands organisation health and Research and development (ZonMW) depicts a rather positive outlook. ‘AAL has delivered for the Netherlands until now’ – reads the study – ‘often in the words of those directly involved: from older adults contributing their own ideas about new ICT solutions to companies bringing tangible products and services to the market. Experience gained within AAL confirms that the Netherlands is in an excellent position to operate at the forefront of these developments. The Dutch population is relatively well educated, and many seniors have sufficient spending power. The country enjoys an advanced technological infrastructure and the level of internet penetration is among the highest in the world. A promising environment to launch smart technology solutions for older adults’.
According to Martin Van Rijn, Dutch State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport, ‘Living independently at home for as long as possible is something more and more people want. Fortunately, the opportunities for people to grow old in their own homes and communities are becoming more widespread. Good quality care and support in the home are essential to achieving this. Informal carers, district nurses, GPs and personal carers all contribute to the quality of life for our older adults. Innovation is a key factor in helping them to carry out their tasks in a changing society. The Netherlands has been an enthusiastic participant in the European AAL programme from the very start. Since 2008, the government has been investing in ICT solutions that improve older adults’ quality of life and support their autonomy and self-reliance’.
In Switzerland, the country is experiencing an unprecedented demographic shift as an increasing number of men and women reach old age. And older people are living longer than previous generations. This trend is set to intensify in the coming decades: according to the Federal Statistical Office, there will be 2.2 million over-65s in Switzerland by 2030, and 2.7 million by 2045. That is why joined-up approaches are needed to better meet the needs of older people. The publication commissioned by SERI explains that “AAL therefore also helps alleviate the shortage of nursing staff and supports the care of seniors in their own homes by relatives through specifically-developed products and services. The participating companies use AAL projects as a way of gaining a foothold in the emerging ‘silver market’.
Seeing challenges as opportunities
According to Daniel Egloff, Head of Unit, Research and Innovation Programmes State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, ‘in the projects of the Active and Assisted Living (AAL) Programme, researchers and companies from different countries work together to develop technical innovations to improve the quality of life, health and autonomy of older people’. Swiss organisations have a success rate of over 30% in AAL calls for proposals and are involved in a third of all projects in the programme. An SME participation rate of just under 40% and systematic involvement of users in the projects ensures the products developed are market-oriented and user-friendly. Moreover, not least because of the success of the AAL Programme, Switzerland is a leader in the research and development of technologies for better ageing.