The challenges posed to western society by the ageing population are of unprecedented complexity and range from securing acceptable levels of Quality of Life (QoL) to older adults and their families to the development of sustainable economic models for welfare state, National Health Systems (NHS) and social security. In this context, ACANTO offers a viable and effective solution for Active Ageing, defined as “the process of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age”. The ACANTO project is expected to produce important societal and economic impacts. More specifically, we will:

Produce factual and measurable evidence for the benefits of service robotics in the context of active ageing

A large group of stakeholders will be involved. A number of prototypes and proof of concepts will be co-developed relying on the cooperation of 100 potential users, some of whom will be engaged for clinical trials on the positive effects of using the FriWalk for fall prevention and post traumatic rehabilitation. Informal care givers (i.e., close relatives and friends of the potential users) will be engaged for the definition of users profile and for the development of persuasive strategies that can stimulate the users. Health care providers, doctors and physicians will participate in the definition of the FriWalk training and diagnostic abilities and supervise its clinical validation. The industrial partners in ACANTO’s consortium will directly engage their marketing and product divisions to guide the development of the project along the most promising market directions.

Contribute to the reduction of admissions and day spent in care institutions

Traumatic events like falls are one of the most frequent causes of admission of older adults into hospitals and care institutions. It is generally recognised that a sustained and balanced physical activity can significantly reduce the likelihood of falls or traumatic events and, when such events occur, can speed up the recovery process. Recent studies quantify this reduction in the proximity of 50%. ACANTO will produce a package of technological solutions centred around the FriWalk that will increase the number of people who can be engaged in a long term programme of physical training under constant medical supervision and monitoring.

Improvement in quality of life of older persons and of their carers

ACANTO will bring about widespread positive effects in the Quality of Life of users and carers.

The World Health Organisation identifies the following broad domains related to QoL: 1. physical domain, 2. psychological domain, 3. level of independence, 4. social relationships, 5. environment and 6. personal beliefs. ACANTO will have an impact on several of these domains. The constant use of the FriWalk and the participation in the cyberphysical social network activities will ameliorate the general health conditions both at the physical and at the psychological level. The cognitive support and the interaction with the FriWalk will contribute to maintain high levels of mobility. In a broader sense, we could say that ACANTO will offer services for independent living, “designed to assist people in gaining independence and assisting communities in eliminating barriers to independence”. At the social level, the cyberphysical social network will reinstate the user in a defined social role and offer her/him access to a network of warm personal relations; the support of the FriWalk will permit a regular and continued execution of the daily activities. At environmental level, the person centred care planning, the constant involvement of family and friends in the activities and the high levels of safety guaranteed by the FriWalk will create a supportive environment.

The care providers (like family doctors) will be offered the possibility to extend the reach of their intervention introducing long term changes in the life-style of their assisted and monitoring their progress. This is likely to produce a reduction in the need for formal cures and treatments.