Adding life to years
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Aconchego Program


Aconchego Program

Status: Ongoing

Evaluated

Porto Portugal
Print this page City population: 23759130% over 60Practice started in 2004

Summary

The Aconchego Program was implemented by Porto City Hall in 2004, in partnership with the Academic Federation of Porto (FAP). It has a double social mission: combat loneliness and isolation of seniors and facilitate accommodation for university students new to Porto. The increase in the population of older people and expensive accommodation for the families of college students not living in the city of Porto are two social problems to which the Program responds. Thus, a complementary solution was developed, consisting of a housing system in which older people who have adequate housing conditions, host students who need accommodation.

This initiative offers benefits for both parties. For the seniors who share their houses, they get a close relationship, gaining companionship in their day-to-day. For the student who offers their companionship, they receive accommodation and enjoy better integration in a new city, through living with someone familiar with the city.

The target of the Program are citizens aged 60 or over, living alone, and university students between the ages of 18 and 35, who are not residents of the Municipality of Porto. The municipality’s team interviews the students (candidates) and admits the ones that have the required profile. The same process is followed for older people. The team visits their houses to verify if there are adequate housing conditions and also analyses the profile of the senior.

This Program as two goals: to address social isolation and loneliness in older people (main goal) and to help students and their families to reduce accommodation costs while they attend the university (we only accept students that live outside the city of Porto).

Older people report great satisfaction with the intergenerational relationships provided by the Aconchego Program. Moreover, the majority of the candidates say that they want to join the Program to have company, especially during the night.

The students report that, besides the benefit of the cost reductions, they gain a positive and home-like environment that improves their performance at the university.

Website: https://www.porto.pt

Key facts

Main target group: Older people in general

Other target group(s): University Students

Sector(s): Housing, Other, Social protection

Other sector(s): Combat the loneliness of seniors; Intergenerational relationship.

Desired outcome for older people:
Build and maintain relationships

Other issues the Age-friendly practice aims to address:
  • Ageism
  • Ageing in place
  • Intergenerational activities
  • Inclusion
  • Participation

Contact details

Name: Raquel Castello-Branco

Email address: raquel.castellobranco@cm-porto.pt


Age-friendly practice in detail (click to expand):

Engaging the wider community

Project lead: Local authorities

Others involved in the project:
  • Local authorities
  • Civil Society Organisation
  • Social or health care provider
  • Volunteers
  • Private sector

How collaboration worked: The academic Federation of Porto (FAP) is the only partner of the Aconchego Program, and its function is to promote the program to the university community. The Program is sustainable since the technical team responsable integrates the Municipal Division of Social Action of the Porto City Hall, which in addition to this project stimulates other projects to promote social cohesion. In addition to human resources, the Program has no other associated costs.

Older people’s involvement: Older people were involved in the age-friendly practice at multiple or all stages

Details on older people’s involvement: Those who study have a home. Who owns a house has companionship.

Moving forward

Has the impact of this age-friendly practice been analysed: Yes

Was the impact positive or negative:
Positive

Feedback:
The seniors report great satisfaction with the intergenerational relations provided by the Aconchego program, that allows then to have company, to create affective bonds and to live an aging in a more active and healthy way. On the other hand, students reduce their housing costs and report that the environment is more familiar, contributing to greater school achievement.

Expansion plans:
Due to the growing visibility and success of the Aconchego Program, several civil society organizations have shown an interest in replicating the Aconchego Program in other counties and cities in the country. The Porto City Council is attentive to this phenomenon and in order to respond positively to these requests, has developed a replication guide that allows to replicate the program in other territories.

Looking back

Reflections:
Promote a greater dissemination of the Aconchego Program to the senior population.

Challenges:
The main constraint that arises in the program is to find the right match, meaning choose the appropriate student to match with the appropriate older person. Therefore, we make a deep and extensive analysis of both profiles, senior and student, to achieve the right match. After they start living together, we visit their homes regularly to evaluate the development of the relationship. These visits are very important for the evaluation of the Program, since they allow us to understand if we have done the right match.