Elderly for elderly

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Elderly for elderly

Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The main idea is: Today I help you and tomorow someone else will help me.
We want to create culture of suppport where old people help each other.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The % of elderly is increasing. The population aged over 80 is the fastest growing population in need of help in everyday life at home. The homes for elderly can accommodate only 4% of those who can not live alone. On the other hand, homes are not ideal solution for many people. More and more elderly want to continue living at home, but in order to do that, they need some kind of support. Some people in need do not even search for help. Their adult children have full time employment. The practice aims to find these old people in order to provide them assistance if they are willing to receive it and if they need it. The practice introduces introdisciplinary approach in the field of providing support for elderly. It is based on the principle of self-help among the elderly in the local community. The problems of old people are very different. Frequently they are lonely. Very often they need transport to the doctor, shopping asistance, someone to go for a walk, ... These are the problems our volunteers are able to deal with. On the other hand old people also have many problems our volunteers are not competent to solve (poverty, violence, illnesses, injuries, nursing care,...). In this cases the volunteers are networking with other institutions in the local community who are responsible for that (Red Cross, Karitas, Centers for social work, Home nursing, Homes for elderly, Municipalities,...). A specific problem are old people in the cities. They are alone in the apartments, they are afraid of strangers, they are not socially included, they have a small social network. They are very inaccessible also for our volunteers.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The practice is an important supplement to other respective programmes in the area of social care. Including a great number of volunteers, who with a lot of working hours and little costs visit elderly at their homes. Older people do not have to go anywhere and this is, taking into account their age, very benefitial. The volunteers come to the user and deal with him face to face trying to understand his needs. If the person expresses a certain need, the volunteers try to find an appropriate help with connecting public or nongovernmental organizations. Some of the needs can be covered by the volunteers themselves (support for their peers). With the programme we are also establishing a civil society monitoring of all who deal with old people. The practice is important and significant also for the local community. We have a questionnaire for the first visit a volunteer performs and it is about the quality of life and needs of old people living at home. The visited people are asked to answer the questionnaire (if they want to). People have a free choice to participate in the programme or not. We gather the answers into a special computer program for further work and for further analysis. This computer program enables volunteers to inform the municipalities about the quality of life and the identified needs of old people living at home. According to that analysis they can plan the correct politics for old people (with questionnaire we collect personal data, data about housing, health, social status, social network, need for assistance, acceptance of assistance, assistance provided). The main goal of the practice is to help older people towards independant life, to improve quality of life of people older than 69 in Slovenia, who live in their households. We would like to spread the programme all over the country to include every Slovenian citizen above 69 (those who agree to participate). We would also like that the programme would be a permanent one. The important characteristic of the practice is that it is provided by users /elderly themselves and systematically embraces all elderly in one community. It detects elderly who are overlooked by other programmes and services. The programme is based on the large number of volunteers who are led by coordinators on the local level, who are led by regional coordinators who answer to the umbrella organization.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Local pensioner organization has to approach the programme Elderly for elderly. They have to find a coordinator for their area. They also have to find volunteers. Then they have to go throug education - know-how in the programme. The coordinator also has to learn the application of the special computer program called BO-PRO. That is the point where the action is begining. The programme volunteers start visiting the elderly above 69 years. When the volunteers visits the older person, they decide through the conversation what action needs to be taken to accommodate the needs of the old person. The volunteers are qualified to provide important informations for the older people they are visiting and to answer to the needs they have. The volunteers cooperate with coordinator to provide help to the elderly. They can provide simple support for their peers themselfs (partnership in casesof loneliness, transport, shopping asistance, walking asistance,,...). When the volunteer findes the elderly who is in greater need of help, he introduces him with the institutions who could help. This enables the elderly to get the services they really need. Our program is free for the users.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We do not compete with other organizations. We are trying to bring together all the stakeholders who work with elderly in a certain municipality. This way we would be able to plan activities more effectively, not to double responsibilities and to improve the level of professionalism among the stakeholders. Our advantage is a huge number of volunteers (3.357) and an extended network of local associations in every part of Slovenia. The important advantage are also the local volunteers which are usually familiar to the elderly they are visiting. The older people are not afraid to open the doors to someone who is the same age as they are and is familiar to them. That's why we are successful with home visits. We knock on every door and we can see the situation inside. We can bring the informations about the real needs of older people to organizations which are competent.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name

Kožuh Novak

Implementer(s) and cooperation partners

Slovene Federation of Pensioners' Organizations


Non‐profit/NGO/citizen sector organization

Country where main implementer is located
How long has the main implementer been operating?

More than 5 years

Please provide a short description of the main implementer.

It is a voluntaristic, humanitarian, self-help NGO, organized as umbrella organization of 503 local associations of pensioners, including 221.134 members all over Slovenia. MAIN OBJECTIVES are: active, productive and creative life as long as possible, recognition of knowledge and experiences of older people, humane last period of life achived through solidarity of the society. ACTIVITIES: promotion of health and healthy lifestyle, various sports, recreational, travel, cultural and social activities, advocacy for the needs and expectations of older people, active ageing and lifelong learning.

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Cooperation partner

Red Cross


Non-profit/NGO/citizen sector organisation

How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? What competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

Red Cross is not directly involved in the initiative. Their local organizations help old people we reach who are in need of basic necessities (e.g. food packages, financal help, help with rebuilding flats, packages for personal hygiene,...). We don't have material resources to help them in that way.

Cooperation partner




How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

Karitas is not directly involved in the initiative. Their local organizations help old people we find in the lack of basic necessaries (e.g. food packages, financal help, help with rebuilding flats, packages for personal hygiene,...). We don't have material resources to help them in that way.

Cooperation partner

Home nursing service


Public body

How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

Volunteers contact home nursing service when their assistance is needed (medical care).

Cooperation partner

Centers for social work


Public body

How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

Our volunteers cooperate with Centers for social work to help old people by public policies and programmes of the state.

Problem and solution
Which of these fields of Active and Healthy Ageing are addressed by your initiative?

Health literacy and patient empowerment, Personalized health management, Assisted daily living, Independent living solutions, Social inclusion (intergenerational practice, work and volunteering), Age friendly buildings, environments, and communities.

If none of the above, answer here:
Please describe if and how your stakeholders (cooperation partners, funders, users, etc.) have been participating in defining the problem and developing the solution.

Red Cross, Karitas, Centers for social work, home nursing, homes for elderly, municipalities,... are the organizations which are very important for the elderly in each local community. The actors are not directly ivolved with the programme or with each other. They are however partners in the programme which aim is to "push" the users towards the certain institutions, which can help them with the specific needs notified by the programmes' volunteers.
The idea of the programme is also to connect all institutions and individuals that work with elderly in a certain area in the instrument called "LOCAL COORDINATION". This instrument enables to find common solutions and assures interdisciplinary approach in complex cases. For now a small number of municipalities are implementing this instrument.
Cooperation with most of the partners is fine. They are detecting the same problem about ageing that we do, but they have different resources and approaches than us. That's why we complement each other. They are very grateful for the data about people who realy need help. They are usually limited on people who come in their office. Those people, who realy need help, often don't search for it.

Has your solution been tested in trials, experimentations, or pilot projects? If yes, please describe the process and outcome.

The pilot project started within the Slovene Philantrophy as a personal initiative of Mateja Kožuh Novak with the help of a group of elderly proffessionals (pensioner organization Ptuj) in 1997. The pilot with small breakes was runing from 1997 untill 2004. It was founded by the Slovene Philantrophy. The findings from the pilot project had a great impact on the development of the programme. The decision to develop and implement the project itself was based on the fact that the pilot project showed that the elderly want to continue living at home with some help from the community. The development process was being modified during all these years (changed questionnaire, process of searching, finding the elderly,...). From the beginning the organizational structure has been relatively solid and has enabled the expression of views of all participants in the programme. The only weak point of the organizational structure is the fact that the programme relies heavily on the volunteers which means that the quality of the service relies on the quality of the volunteers. Nevertheless also in public services we can find questionable quality of preformed work.

How long has your solution been in operation?

for more than 5 years

Please select the relationship between your solution and related solutions currently established in our society. Is your solution…

independent (your solution is approaching a problem that has not been approached before)

What barriers might hinder the success of your initiative? How do you plan to overcome them?

Firstly; the programme does not have an access to a systematic list of all the elderly above 69 years living in Slovenia. This is due to the legislative restrictions. This is the major problem especially in the cities. The programme officials have contacted the Information Commisioner and they a found temporary solution. The idea is to modify legislation to access the needed data. Secondly; lack of financial resources. The programme nowdays is very widespread and it requires greater funding. It is aiming to classify itself among regular activities in local communities meaning that municipalities would finance material costs of the programme. The main coordination and training would still be financed on the national level. Thirdly; work with volunteers is very specific - some are better than others also regarding psyhophysical capability. The programme is trying to keep the existing volunteers for as long as possible. On the other hand it is necessary to recruit new volunteers constantly. We have to pay attention to every volunteer. We educate local coordinators how to get and how to keep volunteers. The volunteers' groups have to be friendly groups with regular (monthly) meetings.

Organization and funding
Regularly paid employees






External advisers and experts


Others (please specify)


What are the specific professional backgrounds and competencies your team brings to the initiative?

Mateja Kožuh Novak is the author of the practice. It was her personal initiative that the programme has to be established. The programme has been designed by the group of elderly retired professionals (doctor of science, doctor of medicine, social workers, psychologists, medical nurses, teachers,...). They have connected their professional knowledge and their own experiences of getting old. Today we have many of those with the sameproffesions amongst our volunteers because they would like to use their knowledge also in retirement. The volunteers in our programme are in fact also the users.

Please describe your management or coordination structure in the initiative.

The umbrella organization is ZDUS chaired by its president. Management of the programme is run by 2 professional co-workers who coordinate the programme on national level. Programme board (8 members) decides on all important programme matters. There is also a commision for education (8 members) and commision for IT (4 members). Regional coordinators (17 people) are responsible for the work in their region (managing the associations in the region). Coordinators on local level (cca. 240 people) are supporting the volunteers (3.357), who are visiting elderly at home and helping them.

Please provide the total yearly budget in Euro that your initiative spends on implementing the solution.

332.823,39€ (2012)

National public funding


European Union public funding


Economic return from own products/services


Foundations and philanthropy capital


Single donations from private individuals


Donations from private companies


Crowdfunding platforms


Participation fees


Other (please specify)


Target group, scale and impact
Which target group(s) do you want to reach with your solution?

The target group comprises of all the elderly in Slovenia. The visits of the volunteers are systematically organised to include all the elderly above 69 years of age. The only criteria is that the user is willing to participate and that he/she is older than 69.

Please estimate the number of persons within your target group (users, clients, etc.) that you currently reach directly with your solution.

137.994 (18.07.2013)

In which local/regional/national area(s) is the solution currently implemented?

293 Pensioners’ Organizations from different regions of Slovenia are included in the programme. It exists on the national level.

What is the impact on your target group (users, clients) you want to generate?

-The service is free off charge for users.
-Socially excluded become socially included.
-We offer help to elderly who have some needs (there is always somethihg we can do to make life better).
-We "push" elderly to become an active manager of their life.
-We invite active older people to help us with volunteering.

What is the wider impact on society you want to generate?

The programme already contributes to the equality in the society and in local community. The structure of the programme enables that all the elderly are visited by the volunteers without any exemption. It enables great effectivness with low financial input. Volunteers do a lot of work with low costs. They performed 814.148 hours of voluntary work in the year 2012.
We estimate that our programme contributesa great deal to the families of the visited elderly , to municipalities and to the whole country.
We would like to achive that no older person would be alone.

What are the impacts on your target group you already achieved?

From 2004-2012 we visited 133.127 older persons at least once (55% of all people older than 69 in Slovenia). We covered 64% of Slovenian teritory. We made 307.699 second visits. We organized 97.995 types of help to the elderly. We performed 4.393.620h of voluntary work. The programme has the community support and the support on the national level. Local mayors are becoming fond of the programme. The Ministry of Labour, Family, Social affairs and equal opportunities recognizes it as an example of a good practice.
Nevertheless the most important impacts are seen on the elderlys' individuallity.

How has the impact of your initiative been assessed?

Experience-based self-assessment (you assessed the impacts based on your experiences with the target group), Feedback-based self-assessment (you assessed the impacts based on feedback from the target group without using specific methods), Self-evaluation (you used qualitative and/or quantitative methods to assess impacts), External evaluation of impacts based on qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups, etc.), External evaluation of impacts based on quantitative methods (quantitative measurement of impact indicators).

Public information and strategy
What information on your initiative is publicly available?

Mission and strategy, Organisational structure, Information on team members, Evaluation report, Financial report, Activity report, Working method and 'theory of change'.

Please indicate webpage or contact for obtaining the respective information.
What are your milestones for further developing, implementing, and establishing your initiative in the next three years? Please describe 1-3 milestones.

MEDIA PROMOTION - The most important milestones in the implementation of the programme are favourable results whitch we have to show on TVs, radio stations, in newspapers, on the web,...
EU FUNDS, MUNICIPALITY FUNDS - the long-term sustainability of the programme demands solving the problem of long-term financing (redirecting material costs of local associations at municipalities and success with European funds).
LOCAL COORDINATION for elderly in every municipality to assure multidisciplinary approach in satisfying special needs fot the elderly.