The general objective of the project is to develop the 'social broker' method to supports the elderly, allowing them to remain living an independent, quality life at home for as long as possible, and in this manner, contribute to socializing care at a societal level. A 'social broker' is committed to strengthening mutual services; mutual support among residents of a particular area or neighborhood. The ‘social brokering’ concept is mainly found in the Netherlands, where a number of pilot tests were carried out. In this project, we want to translate and further develop this 'social broker' concept in the Flemish context. Main keynotes: (1) empowerment of vulnerable elderly persons, (2) mutuality (3) small-scale, established locally, and (4) with specific attention for the referral functions for professional help. The social broker is committed to mutuality, helping one another. In this way, the elderly are not only made aware of their 'shortcomings' and their problems, but also of their competences and how they can be of help to others. This concept is applied at a neighborhood, local level. The accessibility of the project and the approachability of the social broker are also very important. Strengthening care networks for the elderly is the main objective. In that sense, the role of the social broker is facilitative and independent. In addition, the social broker is, in his/her capacity, up-to-date on all professional services available, so that direct referrals can be made if necessary. Furthermore, the objective is to develop an innovative, dynamic method that can be adapted to new initiatives. In that sense, the position of social broker encompasses all areas of life and the care continuum in its entirety, from those in need of little to a great deal of care.
Through this project, we want to translate the ‘social broker’ method into a Flemish context and develop it further, in co-creation with the local stakeholders involved and then carry out pilot tests in both an urban (~ Turnhout) and a rural context (~ Kasterlee). Not only the Flemish context, due to cultural differences, differences in policy context, etc. with the Netherlands where the pilot tests took place, requires a specific translation. The local context, and more specifically the geographic distribution of residents, can also have an impact on the application of the method. For this reason we will test the method in both an urban and rural context. The LiCalab Living Lab platform is ideal for this. LiCalab, as the main partner, has access to the center city of Turnhout, as well as 26 other municipal administrations in the district that include mainly rural municipalities. Furthermore, in the project particular attention is paid to the potential role of digitization as a means of supporting the 'social broker' method. Aristoco Int. Ltd. examines in both pilot tests how the Cubigo platform can facilitate the social broker method and if it increases access to the service/method. Cubigo is a communication platform that offers a uniform and, above all, user-friendly and easily accessible way of communicating for the elderly.
The final objective is to develop a function profile and strategy for the social broker that makes it possible to apply and translate the method to fit other Flemish cities and municipalities. In addition, the project encompasses a valorization section in which the continuity of the method in the city of Turnhout and Kasterlee Municipality has been guaranteed and the possibilities for roll-out to the wider region are examined. The 'social broker' method can even be translated to other vulnerable groups, such as those living in poverty, with psychiatric problems, etc. (~spillover effect).