La Casa Ci Accompagna (Your House Always By Your Side)

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La Casa Ci Accompagna (Your House Always By Your Side)

Bologna, Italy
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Design of adaptations for existing homes and a remote monitoring system for frail elderly users, keyed to expanding the field of innovative services.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

On the basis of demographics data showing the rising average age of the population, the m3 team, supporting ASPeF Mantova, has prioritized the search for answers to the following questions: What home solutions can be implemented to ensure a good quality of life for the elderly in terms of health and safety, while living at home as long as it possible? To be more precise, what levels of environment adaptation are necessary to ensure a greater autonomy and prevention of accidents? What kind of remote monitoring strategy can be developed to detect any early warning signs of deterioration, in order to decipher and alleviate the early stages of dementia, compatibly with the sustainability of care services? On a larger scale, as an evolution of the process, based on a review of the data collected and the performance of the systems installed over time, is it possible to redefine the standards for home equipment and the procedure for housing allocations and design in both public and private constructions, while keeping them sustainable and consistent with local welfare policies? Starting with these questions, the main aims of the project are: - to enhance the possibility of "staying in touch" with the house and the people who live there, so as to monitor potentially critical situations and respond swiftly and appropriately (on site, by phone, by video call or by activating emergency / rescue operations, etc.) - to encourage and support individual autonomy thanks to technological adaptations keyed to preventing critical events - to increase the effectiveness and the quality of care services provided by the city’s social services as well as creating a better support for the family and relatives of final users. The integrated system will connect various different users’ homes to the remote system center, operated by ASPeF at the Isabella d'Este facility. The purpose is to collect varying types of data, respond to calls, notifications, requests for assistance, etc.. so as to lighten the burden on the home care services by seeing to the situations that do not qualify as emergencies but are simply ordinary day-to-day problems. Currently ICT and home automation technologies have become more accessible in terms of cost and availability, nor does installation entail awkward infrastructure any longer, but can be implemented through wireless systems.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Project "Your House Always By Your Side” is based on home automation technologies and on nimble adaptations to the physical environment, where users can be both safer and more autonomous, and a remote-control monitoring of environmental parameters. By harnessing homes to a unified service center, through an internet data link, the environmental and functional parameters of each house are sent to a central unified center for storage and processing. This central facility is connected to the entire network of homes, creating a functional "virtual building". The communication channels can also be activated to enhance the contact with the residents in the houses beyond mere data acquisiton (e. g. through video conference services, traditional phones or video surveillance, activated according to need). The main philosophy of this experimental project can be summed up as a quest for a greater ability to remain “in touch" with the houses and the people who live in them, who are thereby provided with a greater autonomy and a better capacity for the prevention of critical events. The main innovation lies in the use of systems and components that are available on the market, and are therefore reliable and relatively cheap, to implement an integrated system designed to impact many dimensions of the daily life of the elderly. The goal is to design an integrated system capable of simplifying the interaction with the home environment while establishing subjective parameters of 'normality'. These will then be used to detect anomalies and therefore intercept potential dangers or a deterioration in the ability of the person involved. The flexibility of the system as a real "assistive solution" is the main criteria of the innovative design, with a view to achieving a larger-scale application of these solutions, guaranteed to “fit” all housing units, based on needs that may vary significantly from one person to another and over time. This will defines their portability and replicability in different housing situations. Another innovative element is the combination of ICT with the adaptations of the physical environment (e.g, bathroom and kitchen) and dedicated personal assistance services, all coordinated and activated in synergy.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The primary activity is the remote-control reading of parameters culled from the day-to-day mode of use of each house and its systems. This is designed to be a sustainable model for the assistance of the growing number of elderly people who are completely alone in life: people who not only live alone, but also lack friends or relatives who might be able to spot their changing needs or general aggravation. Let’s say one day the system picks up an anomaly in the consumption of water, or the frequency or time of the front door’s being opened, or lights going on in the middle of the night and so on. This anomaly with respect to the average behaviour of the inhabitant of the house will be conveyed by the remote-control system to activate a spot check or intervention by the professional people in whose care the residents have been placed.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Home and building automations systems based on advanced technology began to be installed widely from the 1990s (prevalently with applications in the tertiary sector). So-called ‘smart houses’ have been set up in several European countries over the last 15 years. Some actions have been taken to create homes equipped to meet advanced needs (in relation to the age, social class and health of inhabitants); for example in the European towns of Tonsberg (Norway), Seven Oaks Derry, Durham, West Lothian (Great Britain), Vallgossen (Sweden), Parma, Trento, Bologna, Trieste, Florence, Milan, Rovereto, Saint Marcel (Italy). However, our investigation of previous local, national and international experiences that can boast of positive outcomes in assisted residences for elderly users has not been able to locate other research projects or existing solutions that address the exact same needs as we do. Ours is an interactive integration between technologies, home adaptation, health and social care service and verification of possible anomalies in daily activities, with particular regard to preventing the onset or worsening of cognitive decay and dementia.
About You
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About You
First Name


Last Name


Implementer(s) and cooperation partners



Informal group

Country where main implementer is located

, BO, Bologna

How long has the main implementer been operating?

1‐5 years

Please provide a short description of the main implementer.

The m3 team is composed of technical professionals with a long experience in designing and researching projects for disabled and elderly people. The three technical components of the team (two engineers and an architect) developed their expertise in years of work with colleagues of different professional fields, providing support for final users associations and health services. The m3 team works to create healthier and safer living environments, in the field of Ambient Assisted Living Technologies and Design For All.

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Cooperation partner



Public body

How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? What competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

ASPeF (Agency of the Municipality of Mantova, 190 employees) runs dedicated care services for the elderly (Nursing Homes, Day Care Centers, Home Care Service). ASPeF commissioned the project, to integrate its services with new technology, particularly with regard to home care for the elderly.

Cooperation partner

Stefano Martinuzzi



How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

Martinuzzi is an architect whose main focus is on the social value of his profession. At AIAS Ausilioteca Bologna he is part of the Centre for the Adaptation of the Home Environment, specialized in solutions that help ensure conditions of well-being and safety to people who are housebound.

Cooperation partner

Massimiliano Malavasi



How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

Malavasi is an engineer, specialized in assistive and AAL technologies. He works for 3 centres and for the R&D unit of the Multifunction Centre for Disabilities (Bologna), all dealing with technology directed to enhancing the quality of life. In the project his main focus was on AAL technologies.

Cooperation partner

Maria Rosaria Motolese



How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

Engineer, researcher and PM, she has taken part in international research projects about technological innovations, services and homes for ederly.She is part of the CAAD (Centre for the Adaptation of the Home Environment).In the project she has focused mainly on the customization of AAL technologies

Problem and solution
Which of these fields of Active and Healthy Ageing are addressed by your initiative?

Prevention and early diagnosis of functional and cognitive decline, Assisted daily living, Age friendly buildings, environments, and communities.

If none of the above, answer here:
Please describe if and how your stakeholders (cooperation partners, funders, users, etc.) have been participating in defining the problem and developing the solution.

The methodological project strategy, is based on the involvement of principal stakeholders in all the main steps. During several focus groups, the m3 designers and cooperation partners (care operators, clinicians, service managers, adminstrators) contribute together to the planning and design of the system by sharing a common language ideas and analysis about the elderly needs. The main outcomes of the focus groups were: elderly users needs (first level: main needs; second-level: optimization) stakeholders needs and the recurring everyday life problems in home care service the technological potential offered by the integrated technological system (to define the main functional components of basic home technological kits, that have to be exportable, customizable and upgradeable) the technological components of the remote monitoring system (those already present on the market and those to be developed) the critical data that need to be monitored as so signal of possible anomalies.

Has your solution been tested in trials, experimentations, or pilot projects? If yes, please describe the process and outcome.

"Your House Always By Your Side" is a continuation of the "Alzheimer's Project" which it has evolved from and built on. This project involved the municipality of Mantua, the ASPeF and the Mazzali Foundation , the ASL, the Carlo Poma Hospital and the Provincial Administration of Mantua, with the support of the CARIVERONA Banking Foundation. It was instrumental in supporting home sustainability for people over sixty-five, who are endowed with total basic autonomy (Barthel scale) and partial instrumental autonomy (IADL Instrumental Activities of Daily Living), but are lacking in social contacts and often live alone. The protocols of the pilots of the project "Your House Always By Your Side" will be developed by the ASPeF clinical team, starting from the results of this previous project. They will be developed and implemented within the first three apartments in which the environmental adaptations and system for remote monitoring will be installed. The three apartments are located in Cittadella, in the suburbs of Mantova. The results of these pilots will be used to fine tune further evolution of the system.

How long has your solution been in operation?

for less than a year

Please select the relationship between your solution and related solutions currently established in our society. Is your solution…

independent (your solution is approaching a problem that has not been approached before)

What barriers might hinder the success of your initiative? How do you plan to overcome them?

The applied research projects on AAL technologies that are completed, under way or being implemented now, are very numerous. Similarly many territorial health services around the world are working on the development of innovative home care services. It’s difficult to extract common elements from such a wide range of initiatives. But what emerges from a deep analysis of many of them is that they focus on a particular aspect of the problem; “Your House Always By Your Side” is instead a project that aims to impact many dimensions of it. The system is based both on low tech and high tech solutions. They are adopted both broad market solutions and assistive technology devices. m3 and AsPEF are working both on the improvement of existing services and on the implementation of new, more sustainable, ones. The methodology of participatory design allow a strong personalization of the proposed solution for the needs of AsPEF and the users of the city of Mantova. It’s one of the few projects that seeks to address the problem in a global, sustainable and holistic way, three factors that the m3 team considered as key ones for its success and extension.

Organization and funding
Regularly paid employees






External advisers and experts


Others (please specify)

10 implementer’s employed or social services operator

What are the specific professional backgrounds and competencies your team brings to the initiative?

The m3 team is a group composed of professionals: Massimiliano Malavasi has a degree in engineering and has been working for many years in home automation and assistive technologies, Arch. Stefano Martinuzzi is an expert in building processes for accessibility and adaptation of home environments and Maria Rosaria Motolese also has a degree in engineering and a background in housing solutions and components for the disabled and the elderly as a part of the AAL.

Please describe your management or coordination structure in the initiative.

The project management has been defined by m3 team, based on partecipatory design techniques and sharing choices step by step with ASPeF and other stakeholders. ASPeF has been involved to identify specifics needs and goals, through the partnership of services supervisors and operators who take care of elderly. During the focus groups and with specific questionnaires the m3 team collected informations and ideas and presented evolving design results to other partners; in this way the team has developed the project with an users driven methodology.

Please provide the total yearly budget in Euro that your initiative spends on implementing the solution.

The project has a total budget of € 687.950 for the development of 2 years of activity (annual distribution € 343.975)

National public funding


European Union public funding


Economic return from own products/services


Foundations and philanthropy capital


Single donations from private individuals


Donations from private companies


Crowdfunding platforms


Participation fees


Other (please specify)

42% Mantova's county and municipality, ASL, Carlo Poma Hospital, Mazzali Foundation

Target group, scale and impact
Which target group(s) do you want to reach with your solution?

The integrated system "Your House Always By Your Side" is designed for the homes of elderly with frailty; it integrate environmental adaptations and technology with community social services. Therefore there are two categories of users: older people with 'fragility' inserted into assistance programs of ASPeF and professional user belongings to care and health services. The target group can be potentially identified in a wide range of older people (over 65 years), and includes people with frailty, living alone or assisted by relatives, even those with the risk of dementia.

Please estimate the number of persons within your target group (users, clients, etc.) that you currently reach directly with your solution.

All the elderly nowadays supported at home by ASPeF (50 users) are potential users of the integrated system.

In which local/regional/national area(s) is the solution currently implemented?

City or regional area (Mantova and its county)

What is the impact on your target group (users, clients) you want to generate?

By working to increase safety standards (active, passive, perceived), the project’s main impact is on their peace of mind of elderly who live alone, who feel safe in the knowledge that their welfare is being constantly monitored 7/24 by discreet remote-control technology. Also benefited are the people in charge of providing the assistance services, who can count on a customizable, exportable and implementable system, which operates on the basis of preventive actions.

What is the wider impact on society you want to generate?

The project can impact society by lightening the burden on social and health services, while increasing the sustainability of welfare investments in view of the growth of citizens’ needs. It can also have a positive impact on family members, relatives and informal caregivers who do not live with the person This is thanks to 2 things: Our home adaptatation help the elderly as they go about their daily home activities and communicate with the outside world Our remote-control monitoring system is useful to detect emergencies and to supervise indicator parameters of behavioural changes.

What are the impacts on your target group you already achieved?

Currently the team has finished the design phase of the apartments and of the remote monitoring system. The process of participatory design has allowed us to achieve a substantial part of the objectives linked to the professional user.There has been a transfer of skills and work experience from the m3 team operators to ASPeF and vice versa, which has increased the awareness of ASPeF workers and other local services as to the potential of these systems for automation technologies and the AAL.The activities with end users will start as soon as the adaptations of the apartments will be completed.

How has the impact of your initiative been assessed?

Experience-based self-assessment (you assessed the impacts based on your experiences with the target group), Feedback-based self-assessment (you assessed the impacts based on feedback from the target group without using specific methods), External evaluation of impacts based on qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups, etc.).

Public information and strategy
What information on your initiative is publicly available?

Mission and strategy, Organisational structure.

Please indicate webpage or contact for obtaining the respective information. Eugenia Ascari, Chief executive ASPEF, e-mail:

What are your milestones for further developing, implementing, and establishing your initiative in the next three years? Please describe 1-3 milestones.

The activities of the project have been designed as modular and based on milestones from the very preliminary stages. The next stage will involve opening the yard and implement the expected adaptations designed in the project, as well as the implementation of the ICT infrastructure of remote monitoring. At that point there will be a functional testing phase of the entire system. The third step will be a try-out by some final users who will live in the first three fully-equipped apartments. The last stage will make the systems available in other apartments.