The process of designing a place brand can be a tool in urban governance for creating a unique narrative of identity18.06.2020The brand 'Vic, a city with a human dimension,' which was presented in 2015 and implemented over the next four years, created an interface for structuring the entire narrative of the capital of the Osona region, placing the citizen and quality of life at the centre of political debate and society's collective imaginary. That is one of the main conclusions of the study The Role of a City Council in a Place Branding Campaign: The Case of Vic in Catalonia , a scientific article published in the journal Sustainability on 28 May, and authored by the researchers in the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies at the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia Xavier Ginesta, Jordi de San Eugenio and José A. Corral, working with the former rector of the University, Jordi Montaña.
The study examines the process of public branding led by Vic City Council and implemented on its behalf by the Audiovisual Translation, Communication and Territory (DEAL) research group at UVic-UCC, with the cooperation of the Emprèn group. The researchers' work had two objectives: first, to consider in detail the process involved in the conceptualisation, design and implementation of the city's new place branding, which took place during the 2013-2014 academic year; and second, to present the implications of place branding on the public management of the territory.
A tool for good governance
The article states that branding is much more than a tool solely for institutional communication by the public administration and is in fact a tool for good governance "due to its complexity, its holistic vision of public policies, the need to define and execute strategic plans and for communication with the stakeholders," explain the authors of the study, according to which "a place brand must be based on in-depth knowledge of the society in question."
Bottom-up processes should therefore be applied when creating them, or in other words, those "based on working with the target groups and private-public cooperation, to build much more precise arguments that can encompass a certain collective imaginary," say the authors. Their research also concludes that place brands developed with the involvement of the various public and private stakeholders that are part of it, as well as the various institutions, organisations and ultimately the public, "become something that helps to manage the identity and urban governance of a place and they contribute to guaranteeing the success of the [place branding] campaign, for both external audiences and above all for internal ones, among whom we want to create a sense of belonging and community."
The researchers also conclude that "the processes involved in the design and conceptualisation of place brands do not always have to be reconsidered from scratch, because an analysis of previous campaigns can be a viable starting point," they say. For example, this applies to the brand 'Vic, a city with a human dimension,' which adopts some elements of the 'Vic, city of...' campaign of 2004.
Finally, the project has led the authors to the conclusion that place branding can become "a meeting point between market interests, the public administration and citizens, as a key element in the city's policy of economic promotion and social revitalisation."
The case of 'Vic, a city with a human dimension'
According to the researchers, the success of the 'Vic, a city with a human dimension' place brand lies in the fact that Vic City Council presented an umbrella brand that brings together all its campaigns and creates a common storytelling, as well as a strategic action plan for future initiatives and for all governing bodies. They also explain that the process involved in its creation was participatory, including public and private stakeholders, and sought consensus among all political groups. "Only with the certainty that all the municipal groups understand the need to advance towards a global brand for this capital, one that will last a long time, can we prevent these brands from becoming the result of one term of office," they say.
This is precisely what had previously happened in Vic, where eight attempts to create a brand between 1973 and 2009 were identified in the initial diagnosis in the study. The fieldwork to create the new brand was divided into three main areas: first, 14 focus groups, second, an open-ended survey answered by 855 people, and third, two in-depth interviews.
This research provided the elements which were the basis for building the brand, a plural combination of many perspectives, according to which the people of Vic believe that their city is a mixture of architectural heritage, gastronomy, artistic and cultural influences, and values such as integration and inclusion, multiculturalism and a balance between tradition and modernity. The UMedia agency, affiliated to UVic and headed by Jordi Cano - to whom the article is dedicated in memoriam - designed the logo for the city's new brand that has been in place since 2015.
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A project lead by BETA Technology Center will involve Marine Protected Areas in the management and monitoring of sea turtle nesting in the western Mediterranean11.06.2020Marine protected areas will be used as a starting point for the management and monitoring of sea turtle nests in the western Mediterranean. That is the basis of the COMING project, the latest initiative led by the BETA Technology Center of the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia, which has just been launched with financial support from the MAVA Foundation. The project has been approved within the framework of the "Thematic Call for Small Projects on Sustainable Management of Marine Turtles of MedPAN." The University of Barcelona and the Italy's Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn in Naples are also taking part.
There are five Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) involved in the COMING project (Coordinated monitoring and management of sea turtle nesting activity in the western Mediterranean through MPA): two in Catalonia - the Maresme Coast MPA and the Ebro Delta MPA, managed by the Government of Catalonia; and three Italian areas, the Costa degli Infreschi e Costa della Masseta and Santa Maria di Castellabate MPA, run by the Parco Nazionale del Cilento Vallo di Diano e Alburni, and the Isole Pelagie MPA, managed by the Comune di Lampedusa and Linosa.
A growing nesting area
The western Mediterranean is becoming a regular nesting area for Caretta caretta sea turtles, possibly as a result of a colonisation process which is perhaps encouraged by global warming, involving individuals coming either the eastern Mediterranean or the Atlantic nesting beaches. These new populations in colder areas in the western Mediterranean are crucial for enhancing the resilience of the species in the Mediterranean, as most nesting areas in the eastern basin are not expected to remain optimal in the short term due to global warming.
Most of these events take place on beaches with a significant human presence. This situation, combined with the lack of common protocols for application by management personnel and a lack of public awareness means that the turtles' eggs and young are harmed, the females are disturbed and it is impossible for them to lay their eggs, and also leads to poor management decisions and missed opportunities for gathering scientific data.
For all these reasons, explains Mireia Aguilera, a researcher at the BETA Technology Center, "it is essential to establish common guidelines for management and conservation, improve public involvement in the management of these events, and carry out a scientific monitoring programme." According to Aguilera, all these measures implemented in different countries should lead to "the stabilisation of these nesting events, and the promotion of habitats which are suitable for the survival of the species in a context of global change."
In order to achieve this, the project will carry out several initiatives divided into three main objectives: The development of a common strategy for monitoring and managing nests in the western Mediterranean. Second, scientific studies on the origin and viability of these events will be carried out, including studies of beach temperature profiles that show whether they are viable during laying seasons, and genetic studies to determine the population of origin of the breeding specimens, as well as the number of individuals which contribute to the population. Finally, outreach and awareness-raising activities on the biology and nesting process of Caretta caretta will be undertaken to involve the public in the management of events.
Protected marine areas play a central role in monitoring and managing these events for several reasons, according to Elena Abella, a researcher working with the BETA Technological Center: "some of the nesting areas have been located within these MPAs, so they will benefit from the development of common protocols that enable the right management decisions to be taken." Furthermore, "these areas are excellent starting points for launching information and awareness campaigns in order to improve detection and the work done by local specialists and institutions and the general public, who need to adapt to the presence of nesting turtles on beaches."
The first meeting of the project was held at the end of May, and was attended by representatives of the three institutions involved, and acted as a starting point to begin work on the three lines of research that will be undertaken.
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Issue 2 of the UCampus magazine is available now10.06.2020This week saw the publication of issue 2 of UCampus, the institutional magazine of UVic-UCC, which is available in three languages: Catalan, Spanish and English. This issue includes interviews with the president of the Balmes University Foundation and Mayor of Vic, Anna Erra, the director of the Chair in Agroecology and Food Systems, Marta Rivera-Ferré, and the filmmaker and former student Ariadna Seuba Serra. You can also read an in-depth report on the impact of Covid-19 on the day-to-day running of UVic-UCC, and how the institution has coped over the last few months from various points of view.
The magazine also includes a report on the latest studies of the social value and socio-economic impact of the University on its surrounding area and on Catalonia as a whole, and covers issues such as the Professional Campus, where the institution teaches higher level vocational training programmes in a university environment, the CISARC Simulation Innovation Centre in Manresa, the cultural activities of UVic-UCC, and the past, the present and the future of the Emboirats castellers group, which has celebrated its tenth anniversary this academic year.
UCampus is a continuation of the magazine Campus, which began life in the 1990-1991 academic year as the voice of University Studies at Vic, and subsequently of the University of Vic. Its second era began in 2006 when the format was changed, and it became a quarterly full-colour magazine, aimed primarily at an external audience (students' families, internship centres and collaborating institutions). The current Ucampus marks a change in the approach to university news at the UVic-UCC, as focuses on the main areas of university life - teaching, research, knowledge transfer and social and institutional responsibility.
The U placed before the word Campus in this new format is the identifying logo of the UVic-UCC, and is a typographical feature bringing together the UVic and UManresa campuses and the UGranollers base. UCampus will appear twice a year, and will highlight the most important aspects of the university that may be of interest to a wider international audience.
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A European project lead by BETA Technological Center is promoting new models of urban organic waste management in the Mediterranean region03.06.2020Cities in the Mediterranean region have been facing a gradual increase and concentration in their population and an increase in construction and tourism for decades. The limits on growth that these urban environments have to cope with means that appropriate waste management is crucial in guaranteeing a healthy living environment. Almost 4 million tonnes of waste are generated in Catalonia alone, of which more than a third is organic waste. In this context, the scientific research project DECOST (Decentralized Composting in Small to medium Towns) is developing a new municipal management framework for organic waste for small and medium-sized towns in the Mediterranean region over three years.
The aim is to create closed and decentralised systems for community and domestic composting, with municipalities and residents playing a key role in the recovery and output of organic waste by means of urban agriculture projects, improving the current collection percentages for the organic fraction. Only between 33% and 36% of the organic waste generated in Catalonia is currently selectively collected. The project is being coordinated by the BETA Technological Center (Biodiversity, Ecology and Environmental and Food Technology) at the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC), and is funded by the European Union through the ENI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme cooperation programme, which is contributing 2.7 million Euros (ME), or 90% of the total budget, which amounts to 3.1 million Euros.
Eight partners from six countries and four pilot tests
A total of eight partners are participating in DECOST, including universities, research centres and government agencies from six different countries in the Mediterranean region. Apart from the CT BETA, the consortium includes the Marche Polytechnic University and the Ente di Governo Rifiuti e Risorse Idriche Basilicata in Italy, the University of Patras, in Greece, the Irbid Agriculture Directorate and the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Jordan, the Galilee Society (Arab National Society for Health Research and Services) in Israel, and the Palestine Technical University Kadoorie in Palestine.Waste agencies and municipalities in the various participating countries are also involved in the project, and according to Joan Colón, the lead researcher in DECOST, "they make up an international and multidisciplinary team that provides both technical knowledge and knowledge of the local level of governance processes." In more specific terms, one of the challenges facing DECOST is to implement the various demonstration experiments or pilot tests for the recovery of municipal organic waste that will take place in Spain, Italy, Jordan and Palestine. They will all be based on implementing new community and domestic composting systems for municipal organic waste.
Two of these pilot tests will be carried out directly by researchers at the BETA Technological Center, and will take place in the Osona region. The first is in the municipality of Les Masies de Roda, where the DECOST project will involve a system of community composters all over the municipality to treat all the organic waste produced there, complementing the transition from the current system to a door to door system.
The second project will also test a system for treatment of the green fraction in the Sant Llàtzer i Quatre Estacions neighbourhood in Vic based on community composting, with the objective of meeting the neighbourhood's current needs while providing new solutions for other neighbourhoods with similar urban characteristics.
Recovering up to 2,000 tons of organic waste each year
With the new system, the researchers expect to reduce organic waste and recover between 1,500 and 2,000 tonnes per year (between 350 and 500 tonnes per year in each pilot test). The DECOST technical teams will be working in tandem to carry out urban agriculture projects that can use the compost generated. Training will also be provided for staff of government agencies, and computer tools and mobile applications will be used to increase citizens' knowledge and commitment to waste management.
In the long term, says Colón, "it is a question of achieving intelligent, sustainable and inclusive urban development, which is at the same time adapted to circumstances in the cities of both the north and the south of the Mediterranean region." According to the project's lead researcher, "environmentally and economically viable waste planning will only be feasible if it incorporates the social perspective and adopts a people-centred approach, empowering civil society and increasing the capacity for institutional creation." Finally, the aim is to ensure that the four demonstration experiences can be reproduced in other municipalities in the Mediterranean at the end of the project.
About the BETA Technological Center
The BETA Technological Center at the UVic-UCC BETA aims to improve and promote the competitiveness and technological capabilities of companies, public bodies and other institutions by undertaking collaborative R&D projects. Its main areas of expertise are green technologies, ecology and biodiversity, agrifood industries and sustainability. The CT BETA is a member of TECNIO, the network run and supported by the Government of Catalonia, made up of technological centres of excellence and with high quality standards (in terms of development and transfer of technologies and capacity for innovation) in Catalonia.
This document has been produced with the financial support of the European Union within the framework of the ENI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme. The Technological Center for Biodiversity, Ecology, Environmental Technology and Food Management (BETA TC) of the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) is solely responsible for the contents of this document, which does not in any way reflect the position of the European Union or the programme's management structures.
(Foto: Investigadors de diversos països en el llançament del projecte DECOST a Vic l'octubre de 2019)
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Marta Rivera: "The food system is directly related to climate change and the emergence of pandemics"29.05.2020Marta Rivera, director of the Chair in Agroecology and Food Systems at UVic-UCC, took part in the debate on "Covid-19, a challenge for planetary health," which discussed the relationship between planetary health and the Covid-19 pandemic. The round table discussion was part of a series of six debates on the impact of the current health crisis on our society, and was organised by the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Issues (CETC) with the Ministry of the Vice-presidency and of the Economy and Finance of the Government of Catalonia and the Advisory Council for Sustainable Development (CADS).
The talk, which was held on the Zoom platform on Thursday 21 May, addressed issues such as what planetary health is and how it is related to pandemics, scientists' opinions regarding the causes of Covid-19 and how it spreads, the relationship between climate change and pandemics, and the challenges this issue poses for us in the future. In addition to Rivera, the guest speakers were the lead researcher at ISGlobal and Professor of Medicine at Pompeu Fabra University, Josep M. Antó, and the lecturer in Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Barcelona and researcher at the IRBio, Jordi Serra.
Linking people's health with the health of the planet
Marta Rivera analysed the current situation of food systems, and emphasised the need for an analytical perspective which links the health of people and the planet, instead of only focusing on the biophysical planetary limits that guarantee life. According to Rivera, "the food system is directly related to climate change and the emergence of pandemics," because phenomena such as deforestation, habitat fragmentation, the intensification of agriculture, increasing globalisation and biodiversity loss contribute to zoonosis processes that cause pandemics like Covid-19. Her speech and the entire debate can be viewed via the following link.
A discussion on the role of farmland in the health and environmental crisis
On 20 May, Marta Rivera also participated in the debate "Como agua de mayo: el papel del campo en las crisis sanitaria y ambiental" [A godsend: the role of farmland in health and environmental crises] organised by Greenpeace. The round table discussion examined the role of farmland in the current health and environmental crisis and other crises, such as fires, droughts, intensive practices such as macro-farming, and agrochemical abuse. The debate can be viewed here.
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UVic-UCC rises 10 places and is now ranked twentieth in the CyD Ranking of Spanish universities28.05.2020The University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) ranks twentieth in the latest CyD Ranking, which covers the 76 universities in Spain and was published yesterday by the Fundación Conocimiento y Desarrollo, which compiles it every year. According to these figures and the analysis carried out by the Quality Area of UVic-UCC, the institution has risen by 10 places compared to its position last year, and is listed among Spain's twenty best universities.
This sustained improvement is largely due to the good results obtained in three of the five areas into which the Ranking is divided: Contribution to Regional Development, International Orientation, and Knowledge Transfer. The new milestone reached this year is that the number of UVic-UCC's high-performance indicators has increased from 11 to 15, which means a rise of 33%. The new indicators of high performance that UVic-UCC has successfully achieved are: Publications with private companies; Income from lifelong learning; Publications with companies in the region, and Internships abroad, which is an indicator that has been created this year.
Eighth in the area of Contribution to Regional Development
The area of Contribution to Regional Development is where UVic-UCC obtains the best position in the ranking, as it occupies eighth place and has risen eight places compared to the previous year. Highlights in this area are the good results obtained in the indicators of Regional publications, Regional research funds and Publications with companies in the region.
Meanwhile, the field of Knowledge Transfer is the area that has improved the most in absolute terms. In this area, UVic-UCC has risen 24 positions compared to last year, and is now in 38th place. This has been possible thanks to the good results in the indicators of Publications with companies and Income from lifelong learning.
UVic-UCC maintained the good results for International Orientation it had obtained in previous rankings, and even climbed two positions to eleventh place. The indicators in which it has shown the most excellence in this field are Programmes taught in a foreign language (master's degree); Student mobility; Internships Abroad; International Teaching Staff, and International Publications.
Although UVic-UCC fell nine places to 26th place in the field of Teaching and Learning, which is the same position as it previously occupied, it had good results for the Graduation Rate; the Regulatory graduation rate; the Performance rate and the Success rate.
Ground was also made up in Research compared to the previous year, as UVic-UCC climbed five positions. It is now 54th in the Ranking, and achieved good results in the Open Access Publications indicator. Although this area, in which UVic-UCC still has limited experience, offers room for improvement, the Ranking has highlighted the institution's sustained growth in several indicators: External research funds (settled); Publications per lecturer; Standardised impact factor of publications; Highly cited publications, and Average number of research sections.
About the Ranking
The CyD Ranking is a tool that enables a comparison to be made between universities in various areas, including their teaching and learning, research, knowledge transfer, international orientation and contribution to regional development, by calculating a series of indicators for each institution and for each knowledge area.
It offers an insight into the diversity of university profiles, and allows the quality of teaching and learning to be compared, highlights strengths and weaknesses, and identifies the areas in which they are most efficient and those in which they have room for improvement.
The classification of the indicators into high, intermediate or low performance groups provides a multifaceted approach to the university system.
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The social value of UVic-UCC is 9.5 times greater than the grants it receives 26.05.2020The first social value report of the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC), entitled Anàlisi del Valor Social de la UVic-UCC del curs 2017-2018 [Analysis of the Social Value of the UVic-UCC for the 2017-2018 academic year], has studied and monetised the institution's social value during this period. "It is a way of clearly showing and justifying the public funds used by the institution, improving its internal management and placing a value on the relationship with the various stakeholders," explain the authors of the study, Elisenda Tarrats, the director of the Department of Economics and Business Studies in the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies at UVic, and Núria Arimany, a doctor and researcher in the same faculty. The head of Entrepreneurship and New Ideas at UManresa, Marc Bernadich, also worked on the study.
One of the conclusions this first report reaches is that the institution's consolidated social value is 9.5 times greater than the grants it receives, of which the vast majority are allocated to the Vic campus. In specific terms, this social value amounted to 64,268,260 Euros, compared to 6,755,910 Euros received in grants during the academic year studied. The consolidated social value includes the social value generated by the university's economic activity and its specific social value, after deducting duplicate values. The consolidated social value is also greater than both the equity (19,641,033 Euros) and income (50,330,646 Euros). Furthermore, the University's contribution or return to the Government amounted to more than double the grants it received.
The study was presented last Tuesday during an online press conference featuring the two researchers and the rector of UVic-UCC, Josep Eladi Baños, as well as the president of the Balmes University Foundation and Mayor of Vic, Anna Erra. The rector emphasised that "this study confirms that UVic-UCC is a driving force within its area of influence, which we already knew, but we will now be able to show its extent with figures." Meanwhile, Anna Erra highlighted the importance of the universities as an economic engine in the region, as well as describing the study as "a great exercise in transparency and internal self-assessment of the social value that UVic-UCC can bring to society."
"The study shows the institution's good economic and social management"
As well as these indicators, the project calculates three other types of values in addition to the consolidated social value. The first is the social value generated by economic activity, which includes two types of impact: a direct impact due to economic activity of ? 37,343,340, and an indirect impact arising from trading suppliers of ? 6,466,369 and due to investment suppliers of ? 860,347. The return to the Public Administration amounts to ? 17,146.74, which is a direct return of ? 13,835,134, and there is an indirect return for trading and investment suppliers of ? 2,859.23 and ? 452,381 respectively.
The third is the specific social value of 51,700,259 Euros, which represents what the institution distributes to the various stakeholders based on value variables. The three most significant of these are the University's contribution to training qualified professionals, research and its impact on the region's urban development and regeneration.
The Analysis of the social value of UVic-UCC report was produced using the integrated social value methodology developed by Dr José Luis Retolaza, which includes a qualitative analysis based on interviews with the University's stakeholders to identify value variables, and a quantitative analysis involving value variables, indicators, proxies (value approximations) and algorithms. The institution's various stakeholders which were identified are society, the government, students and families, alumni, teaching and research staff and administrative and services staff, institutions and businesses, and the social context.
According to the researcher Núria Arimany, "the results of the study not only show that there was a good economic management of the funds received in the 2017-2018 academic year, but enables improvement of the internal management and the relationship with stakeholders." Meanwhile, Elisenda Tarrats says that "an increasing number of institutions are carrying out studies of this type because they are strategic as they identify the perception of value by stakeholders." Both researchers agree on the need to publish the study every three or four years, in order to determine the direction of trends.
Last February, the University presented the second economic impact report of the institution written by the lecturer and researcher of the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies Enric Casulleras. This study, which estimated the institution's contribution to the Catalan economy at 110 million Euros and the jobs created directly and indirectly during the 2017-2018 academic year at 1,942, assessed the impact of the university's work on the Vic campus. The social value analysis includes the two campuses and it therefore focuses not only on one region. In addition to the Osona region, it also includes the Bages region and their areas of influence.
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A Catalan-led European research project will involve caregivers of people with Alzheimer's in creating ICT tools to make their lives easier14.05.2020About 50 million people worldwide are currently suffering from dementia, and 10 million new cases are identified every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which considers it an increasingly common chronic disease. In this context, a European research project has just been launched which aims to develop ICT tools designed to facilitate everyday care for people with Alzheimer's disease, the most common type of dementia.
The project is called 'Co-Created ICT Solutions for Alzheimer's Informal Caregiving' (Co-Care), and is being led by researchers at the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC), through the Methodology, methods, models and outcomes of health and social sciences (M3O) and Digital Care research groups, with the participation of two other Catalan partners: the Pasqual Maragall Foundation for Alzheimer's research and Confluència Solucions de Convergència Digital i Mobilitat. Seven other partners from Portugal, the United Kingdom and Belgium are also involved.
Technology at the service of people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers
Academic stakeholders - primarily universities offering bachelor's degree courses in the fields of health, social and technology but also the business world - are taking part in the project to design and apply new technological products and services to make life easier for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. However, it will directly involve the end users - both the caregivers and those in their care. "Dementia is one of the main causes of disability and dependence among elderly people, and it has a physical, psychological, social and economic impact not only on Alzheimer's patients, but also on their caregivers and families and on society in general," says Anna Ramon, the coordinator of the project and a researcher in the M3O research group.
Precisely for this reason, adds Ramon, "the involvement of caregivers in designing the tools will be one of the hallmarks of the project, and their participation from the outset "will ensure that the products are the most suitable for their needs, and therefore ensure greater usability and efficiency." According to the researcher, the ultimate goal is to "improve the quality of life of people with Alzheimer's disease and of their caregivers, which is why the tools developed will primarily be used to improve the quality of care that informal caregivers provide for people suffering from the disease, to create a social network for them to support each other, and to help them stay healthy."
A multidisciplinary project
The project, which officially began on 1 January, will last 3 years and is being carried out within the framework of the Knowledge Alliances call of the Erasmus+ programme, which organises transnational activities by higher education institutions and businesses.
Researchers from two UVic-UCC research groups and two different faculties - the Faculty of Science and Technology, and the Faculty of Health and Sciences and Welfare - are involved in Co-Care, "to provide a response in the two areas of the project: the health and social sphere, and the technological sphere," says Anna Ramon. In addition to Dr Ramon, the other participants from UVic-UCC will be Josan Merchan, Eduard Minobes and Montse Romero, who belong to the M3O research group, and Cristina Borralleras and Sergi Grau, a member of the Digital Care group. This experience also aims to improve the learning process for students on bachelor's degree courses in the fields of health and social sciences and technological disciplines, as one of its indirect aims is to improve training programmes on courses by means of applied experiences from an interdisciplinary and person-centred perspective.
The other two partners involved are the Pasqual Maragall Foundation and Confluència Solucions de Convergència Digital i Mobilitat, a company specialising in ICTs. The former will provide its knowledge of the disease and facilitate contact with caregivers, and the latter will provide its expertise in developing technological solutions in the healthcare field.
COVID-19 highlights the key role of this project
Despite the launch of Co-Care last January, the need for spaces, tools and resources such as those it offers has become more apparent than ever with the onset of the Covid-19 health emergency. Both people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers, as well as society as a whole, have had to cope with an unprecedented new situation that may have had a significant impact on these two groups.
"Breaking the routines that people with Alzheimer's had, such as receiving home care, visiting relatives, attending a day centre and keeping medical appointments can have a direct impact on their well-being, increasing the anxiety, apathy or confusion of the person who is affected, and making the situation much more difficult for the caregiver, who has also become much more isolated as a result of the lockdown," explains Glòria Mas, a therapist at the Pasqual Maragall Foundation.
According to the researchers, the conclusion that can be drawn from the current situation is that the resources that Co-care is developing will be very helpful in health emergencies such as the one we have experienced in recent months, or in similar situations. "The opportunity for them to have access to a community of people who are experiencing circumstances similar to their own is very valuable, because it means they can feel understood, they can gain strength from the experience of others, they can avoid isolation, share their concerns and well-being, find creative or alternative strategies and solutions, and enhance the bonds of support and help in the caregiver community. That's why in a situation like the present, they will enable caregivers to become connected to overcome the loneliness involved in not being able to go out and ask for support, help or advice when caring for people with Alzheimer's," concludes Mas. Meanwhile, the project's other results, such as training for students and professionals in the health, social and technological fields and the project Toolkit will also have a virtual format, also as a result of the current circumstances.
First meeting in Vic
All the Co-Care partners held a first working meeting at UVic-UCC last February, at which they spent three days discussing the main milestones in the project, and the methodology and the schedule to be adopted. In addition, "we assessed the challenges and opportunities that the project can provide in order to take full advantage of them," explains Anna Ramon. She says that the next steps "will be deploying the first thematic area, preparing the communication strategy and each institution's internal affairs, which will help to take the project forward successfully."
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