Solution proposed by:
City of Rijeka
In a Nutshell:
The solution is a series of actions and activities focused around the web portal for the elderly that publishes content created by the elderly themselves. The objective is to promote e-inclusion of the elderly, increase their social participation and positively influence their mental health and overall health and wellbeing.
Where and When:
In 2005 the City of Rijeka started providing free IT education for its elderly citizens and in 2012 the web portal for the elderly has been officially launched. The solution has been implemented in the City of Rijeka, Croatia, and is still active.
The use of IT technology through which people can quickly and effectively engage in social events and tend to their own needs and problems has become increasingly important in today’s world. The elderly, due to their age, weaker psycho-physical abilities and financial situation, are one of the most vulnerable groups of citizens and are at a great risk of e-exclusion and general social exclusion. Since the number of elderly citizens in Rijeka is growing every year, the prevention of this occurrence is a priority for the City. The solution is meant to reduce the e-exclusion of the elderly, promote their social participation and positively influence their mental health and overall health and wellbeing.
Although there are many websites aimed at the elderly that provide content tailored to their needs, this concept is different because the focus is on providing the conditions for the elderly to create their own content, promote their own activities and motivate each other to participate in said activities. By reporting on events they participated in (organized walks, excursions, sporting events etc.) they are motivating their peers to participate the next time such an event is organized. This has expanded their social circle and made them more motivated to participate in social events.
The main goal was to prevent the e-exclusion of the elderly, provide them with the information they could find useful in their everyday life and to enable their better social inclusion. The idea was for the web portal to be a a place that felt “close” to the elderly and where they could deal with issues they found important. The aim of the portal was to encourage further interaction between the users (through commenting etc.) and motivate them to engage in more social activities. To achieve this it was important to provide them with all the knowledge and tools needed for them to easily participate in the activities on the portal and to remain motivated to do so. To accomplish this, already existing free IT education for the elderly was essential. Also, 15 Clubs for the elderly were already operating in Rijeka and were equipped with all the necessary IT equipment that is needed to be able to contribute to the portal. To further motivate the elderly and encourage their interaction, a yearly “Top On-line Pensioners” competition has been created, which awarded contributors based on their activities and the quality and quantity of the content they have created.
In 2005 the City of Rijeka has started organizing free IT education courses for the elderly. Some courses were aimed at helping participants learn basic computer skills, some at teaching them how to use the Internet and some advanced courses, like the web writing course, were aimed at teaching them basic skills needed to create web content. As the number of e-educated pensioners was growing, the already existing network of Clubs for the elderly became very important. In these clubs the elderly were able to participate in many programs in the fields of culture and sports and now the City of Rijeka has also equipped these clubs with Personal computers and free Internet access to provide the elderly with a place where they can apply their new IT knowledge. Through different EU co-funded projects, small digital centers were established in the Clubs and equipped with additional IT equipment aimed at increasing their web presence. To provide the elderly with information that they find relevant and to enable their social participation and inclusion, a web portal for the elderly www.penzici.rijeka.hr was created. Each of the Clubs has been given space on the portal and the members can use it to report on their activities. The portal is maintained by the editorial board composed of two employees with the IT support provided by the City of Rijeka. In order to motivate the elderly to create their own content, each club has organized a small Web editorial team that provides content concerning their club. To encourage greater activity on the portal, a yearly “Top Online Pensioners” competition is organized. The jury declares the winners based on their activities and the quality and quantity of the content they have created. The winning clubs receive cash prizes while individual contributors receive thank you notes.
Since May 2012, more than 150.000 visits to the web portal for the elderly have been recorded, over 450.000 pages were opened and over 1.500 articles, 3000 photographs and 2000 comments have been published. A Pensioners’ page on Facebook has also been created and currently has more than 2,500 likes. Until today more than 3,000 people completed the free IT courses for the elderly and the interest is still very high. For the www.penzici.rijeka.hr project, The City of Rijeka has received an award from the Association of Croatian Cities and our practices have been recommended to be implemented in all Croatian cities.