What is the SUSTAIN project?

SUSTAIN aims to concretely improve the way care services for older adults are organised and delivered across Europe, and especially for those who have multiple health and social care needs. This page will provide more information about the background and activities of SUSTAIN.

The project started from our observation that in all European countries, care for older people is often poorly coordinated. This prevents care from adequately meeting the needs of older adults, and it shows that quality of care and outcomes could be much improved.

SUSTAIN will in particular aim to support and improve what we call integrated care’. By a better ‘integration’ of care, we mean that:

  • care for older people is better organised, and professionals coordinate the care they deliver;
  • older persons’ health and social care needs are well assessed;
  • care services listen carefully to older persons and informal carers, seek to involve them in the decisions affecting them and deliver care in line with their needs and preferences as much as they can (‘person-centred care’);
  • professionals from different disciplines (prevention, healthcare, social care) are included in the care team, and different types of support are offered (including new technologies);
  • care is provided in a continuous way, without gaps in the care delivery process.

According to us, integrated care has a potential to concretely improve care services and save some costs.  Most importantly, we want care to be comfortable and ensure peace of mind for service users and for their relatives. We want services to be well organised, with a team of health and social care providers who will be there for the persons who need them, when they need them, in order to support independent living. Ultimately, we aim to support policy and decision makers so policies and care services can better support independent living and address older people’s needs. As such, our objective is therefore to improve existing services in order to align them better with the needs of older.

SUSTAIN is a European-wide project and gathers partners from nine countries in Europe: Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Spain, The Netherlands and the UK. To discover more about the partners, click here. The project is funded by Horizon 2020, the European Commission’s funding programme to support research activities.

SUSTAIN’s activities

To achieve our goals, we have selected 14 care services in seven countries that will be analysed and improved by putting the needs and wishes of older adults at the heart of a safe and efficient service designed around them. We also want to share this experience with other services and countries, so that they too can improve and create real change across Europe for the benefit of users.

Concretely, the project will:

  • analyse the 14 care services by gathering data and by interviewing several persons who are involved (practitioners, users, policy makers, health insurers etc.).
  • with a group of organisations (associations, groups, etc.) at local level, design and implement a set of improvements of the care service, with regards to key principles and values for quality of care.
  • assess the improvements and gather information on this experience, share best practices between countries and build lessons for future stakeholders who would like to improve integrated care delivery.
  • the tips and tricks, recommendations and tools will all come together in a product that we call an online roadmap, designed to show how to improve care services and deliver ‘integrated care’. The roadmap will be a key outcome of the project.

The SUSTAIN website

The website is aimed to be the central communication hub for all project activities. You will find information on the project objectives and the partners, but also information and news about the participating initiatives aiming to further develop integrated care. We will also seek to inform the wider public of the project activities, and provide updates on our progress.

Here you will find the links to different parts of the website:

More detailed project information

The SUSTAIN partners

The care services that are participating in the project

The latest news and events

Products developed by SUSTAIN

How can older people, informal carers and their organisations benefit from the project?

By starting from concrete experiences, the project aims to be as close as possible to the realities faced by older persons and informal carers, so the main SUSTAIN results reflect their needs and expectations.

The project supports a strong participation of older persons and informal carers through their participation to the meetings and the interviews. SUSTAIN will deliver guidelines on how to engage with them in the improvement of care services, together with policy makers. These guidelines, to be relevant and realistic, need to be developed together with older persons, informal carers and their representative organisations.

We are supported in our involvement of older persons and their organisations by AGE Platform Europe, the main European-wide organisation representing older people.

In which ways can older persons, informal carers and their organisations take part or support the project?

You can support the project by:

  • helping us spread information on the project and its results;
  • contacting your national partner organisation, if you are in one of the countries involved;
  • talking about the project around you, in your networks and communities, to the practitioners you know;
  • subscribing to our newsletter, currently only available in English (see at the bottom of the page).

You can take part in the project by:

  • contacting the project leader to show your interest;
  • sharing your experience and knowledge on participatory approaches in the improvement of care services;
  • inform us about the difficulties you face, what you expect and what should be done to improve care services for older people;
  • joining the online discussion using the hashtag #SUSTAINeu.