DHU Radar

VinclesBCN: a service of the Department for the Promotion of Elderly People of Barcelona City Council to strengthen the social relationships of elderly people who feel alone and improve their well-being through technology.

Keywords: Active and Healthy Ageing, Covid-19, Elderly, ICT solutions, Social Innovation
Digital solution and service (e.g. application/digital health portal/platform/AI based system/etc.)
Short description
VinclesBCN is a social innovation project created to enhance the social relationships of elderly individuals who feel lonely and improve their well-being through technology and the support of social dynamization teams. This project has started in autumn 2014, where the Barcelona City Council started a prospection of social innovation actions. The turning point to accelerate the project was its presentation at the Mayors Challenge competition in 2014 by Bloomberg Philanthropies. From then on, pilots could be developed in the years 2016-2017. The intended audience are the elderly citizens of Barcelona who feel alone and willing to improve their well-being through technology. Persons that might be interested in learning about it would be these same elderly people and their families and carers. Citizens interested in joining the VinclesBCN network can call a toll-free number, visit their Social Services Center or Primary Care Center (CAP), or fill out an application form. If they comply with the requirements (be 65 y.o or older, be registered as a resident in Barcelona, feel in a situation of loneliness, be able to use a tablet and are motivated to use the service, and have a level of Catalan, spanish, and/or sign language), they can start the use of the service. The City Council will provide seniors who are users of the service with a tablet with the application installed and with an Internet connection to use the Vincles BCN application. The service has two user profiles: A users are those in a vulnerable economic situation who are provided with the tablet on loan with an Internet connection. B users are those who have their own device and Internet connection. The VinclesBCN application is accessible and very intuitive: it has been designed with the elderly in mind. This application allows users to send and receive voice messages, text messages, photos, or videos, as well as make calls, video conferences, and schedule appointments on the calendar. The elderly person can get in touch with their network of family and friends, who can download the application on their mobile phones. The elderly person can also communicate with user groups in VinclesBCN and create communities of seniors with common interests. Neighbourhood, topic and friendship groups are facilitated by professionals face to face and online.
Impact on health outcomes, Economic value to patients, Impact on the health system’s capacity and resilience (e.g., health and care efficiency, continuity of care)
During the pandemic the service made a research with UOC (Open University of Catalonia): “Digital relational work in troubling times. Building online support among people”.
There is evidence for economic viability and/or of benefits to the target group of the practice. Further research/development is needed for routine use.
The project has evolved significantly since its inception in 2015, going through several phases of improvement. Nowadays, it has reached high levels of implementation in Barcelona, being fully deployed throughout the city. In 2021, they reached 3000 active users in the city of Barcelona and 198 groups, and the service has continued to grow, also incorporating individuals with hearing impairments into the service.
Geographical scope
It is a replicable project but the goal is not to transfer it but to provide service to senior citizens in Barcelona.
Catalan, Spanish and sign language since october 2021
The service is fully developed throughout the city of Barcelona, thanks to the pilot development between 2016 and 2018. In 2022, the service reached over 3067 users, with the creation of 157 groups and participation in various activities such as meet-ups, totalling 3204 participations. There were 80 workshops on how to use the app, training over 750 individuals. Through the upgrade to the BCN+65 App, various training services, and collaboration with senior centers and other socio-sanitary facilities, the service aims to continue its development.
Submitted in other database or repository of digital health resources that is publicly available

Additional information

to clinicians / care practitioners
Care pathway tracking and adherence
Escalation systems tracking home monitoring data streams
eLearning for workforce development
ePrescription solutions
Other (please define below)
Duke questionnaires are periodically applied to the service users to assess improvements in feeling of loneliness
to patients / citizens
Remote monitoring apps/health outcomes tracking
Telehealth and telemedicine
Health promotion and wellness apps and wearables/virtual coaches
Smart homes/independent living support/ambient assisted living technologies
Digital tools to support patient feedback and reporting of outcomes and experiences
Home care
Through VinclesBCN, elderly people have a new solution that improves their quality of life by promoting social interactions while supporting active aging. It is a tool that allows them to influence their health from their homes, making users more independent and in control of their social lives.
Primary target patient group (age)
Older adults (65+)
Addressed prevention area(s)
Other (please specify below)
Social connectedness, cultural promotion, culture prescription to alleviate loneliness, knowledge of new resources and entertainment
Use case and care pathway positioning
Prevention and wellness, Integrated care pathways, Functional support and independent living (e.g., for frailty), Patient or citizen communities, self-help and mentoring, COVID-19 monitoring and care guidance
The VinclesBCN service is replicable. The aim of the service is not to transfer it but to offer it to the elderly in Barcelona
Ready to be transferred to
Transferability has not been considered in a systematic way.
Plans for cross-border implementation
Have not been considered and will not be developed in the near future
Connectivity of the solution with regional and/or national services
The VinclesBCN service is replicable. The aim of the service is not to transfer it but to offer it to the elderly in Barcelona