On March 3, 2021, Carus Consilium Sachsen GmbH (CCS) held its 12th Partner Dialogue in a fully digital format for the first time – and it was very well received. The virtual conference involved more than 90 representatives from health and care, politics, industry, academia, and civil society organizations throughout Germany.

The topic “Active and healthy aging – in Saxony and Europe” overarched this 3rd think tank for SHAPES integrated care and participants exchanged views on platforms and digital solutions that are supposed to help older people to actively shape their lives for as long as possible. One of the two major blocks of the conference was the presentation and discussion of SHAPES. Prof. Malcolm MacLachlan (SHAPES Leader, Maynooth University in Ireland), Dr. Sonja Grigoleit (Fraunhofer Institute for Scientific and Technical Trend Analysis), Dr. Alexia Zurkuhlen (gewi-Institut für Gesundheitswirtschaft e.V.) and Stephanie Ehrentraut (Carus Consilium Sachsen GmbH) illuminated the approaches and pilots within the project.

Together with all participants, the experts discussed critical questions such as:
What are the needs of the users? How can SHAPES help seniors in their daily lives? How do seniors use the technology? Do older people really live better with digital solutions? How can the market be regulated so that solutions are successfully placed and everyone can access them in a fair way?

“We are learning from and revising the systems and the technologies all the time so they fit the people rather than the people having to fit the technology.” said Prof. Malcolm MacLachlan. SHAPES aims at user-centric development to design digital solutions that are easy to use. This co-design process is implemented in the pilot campaign that involves more than 2.000 older people. The pilot themes focus on smart living environments, improving in-home and community-based care, medicine control and optimization, psycho-social and cognitive stimulation, care for individuals with neurodegenerative diseases, cross-border health data exchange, and physical rehabilitation at home.

“The COVID pandemic has contributed that many older people use digital solutions for the first time. These older users were enthusiastic about how much digital services can enrich and facilitate everyday life,” said pilot campaign manager Dr. Sonja Grigoleit. Saxony pilot leader Stephanie Ehrentraut confirmed how important it is for older people to lose their fear of contact with new technologies. “We are looking into efficient ways how they can learn to use digital solutions safely in a smart living environment.”

SHAPES is funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 program. CCS GmbH is one of 36 project partners from 14 European countries. The SHAPES consortium develops, tests, and evaluates digital services in 14 locations in 10 EU member states. As a reference region for the Innovation Partnership Active and Healthy Aging (EIP on AHA), Saxony is one of the selected sites.