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Dynamics of social innovation and long-term care for elderly people: evidence based on case studies from Wallonia and Brussels

2016 Conference Presentation

Policy Belgium

6 September 2016

Dynamics of social innovation and long-term care for elderly people: evidence based on case studies from Wallonia and Brussels

Ela Callorda Fossati, CIRTES UCL, Belgium


Objective: This presentation explores the dynamics of social innovation in the ‘sector’ of long-term care for elderly people. First, we consider the prevailing logics at the emergence of social innovation. To what extent the social problem solving rationale influences the creation of new and disruptive care services and forms to organise care work? Who are the social innovators and how do they involve in social innovative care? Second, we examine the relevance of main models of scaling (duplication, diversification, cooperation, institutionalisation…) in order to explain real patterns in social innovative care initiatives.

Data and methods: Our analysis is based on empirical evidence from Wallonia and Brussels. Three main research methods are used. First, case studies are identified and selected through the Delphi method. Indeed, a pool of experts participates in a consensus building process aiming to define the ‘sample’ of case studies. The ‘sample’ includes 14 cases (not for profit projects/organisations) from different care ‘domains’ (adapted housing, community based initiatives, respite care, accompaniment and psychological support, multidisciplinary approaches and technological social innovations). 3 of the 14 projects target issues related to the Alzheimer disease.

We combine two data collection methods in order to study the dynamics of social innovation. Documentary research gives us an indirect access of what happened at previous times along the social innovative process. We collect internal (legal status, annual activity reports, board resolutions, training and implementation manuals, subsidy application forms, newsletters, advertising…) as well as external documents (consultancy reports, press articles…). Our multidisciplinary research team (socioeconomics and public health) also conduct in-depth interviews with social innovators. We code both kinds of data, documents and interviews, in the same thematic template.

Results: Our preliminary results suggest that internal resources and proximity are key factors explaining the dynamics of emergence. Patterns of scaling are diverse, non-lineal and highly dependent on public funding and regulations.

Policy implications: Structural funding rather than facultative is urged by social innovators to be able to scale their social innovative care practices. Local public authorities (communes, provinces, régions) are particularly challenged by trends in social innovative care.