EMPOWERCARE is a project financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The total project budget is € 7,247,220. Solidarity University’s budget is € 351,748 from which € 211,048 is financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

The aim of EMPOWERCARE is to decrease isolation of and increase solidarity amongst elderly citizens by deploying local skills and expertise. EMPOWERCARE combines three activity fields: Empowerment, Technological Strategies and Staff Development.

All too often, the elderly are not completely involved in decisions regarding their own health and wellbeing. Also lacking is the required support to enable them to live independently for longer – aided by their local community. EMPOWERCARE tackles the problems communities with an ageing population are faced with. The project brings proven solutions from the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom together and combines them with innovative technologies.

our role

The Solidarity University is partner in this international Interreg2Seas project. In the Netherlands, the Solidarity University and SWVO are responsible for the implementation of EMPOWERCARE. The Solidarity University develops pilot sites and also takes care of research, and process management.

Common challenge

The 2 Seas area is facing a common problem – rising demand for health and social care services by our growing older population – creating a pressing need to find new approaches. In 2013 the over 65s made up 18.2% of the European population; 19.4% in France, 18.6% in Belgium, 18.7% in the Netherlands and 18.2 % in the UK. These figures are set to rise to a staggering 28.7% on average by 2080. With the cost of care for older people increasing it is necessary to integrate these groups more closely with their communities, keeping them healthier and in their own homes safely for longer. The challenge facing the 2 Seas area is that we will run out of resources if we don’t change the ways citizens are involved in their own health and wellbeing. Traditional services are already at capacity and the present system pushes people to the default point of safety (hospital).

Overall objective

In order to create resilient communities and reduce individual frailty and loneliness, EMPOWERCARE will develop a holistic community asset approach using research-based solutions to respond to current gaps in the care of people in the target group (those ages 65+ and those aged 50+ with at least one chronic condition). EMPOWERCARE will address the issues facing our societies concerning the care of our ageing population; older people are not being involved in decisions concerning their own health and wellbeing. In combining the work of a number of existing and tested partner solutions from across the 2 Seas area the project will ensure that older people are at the forefront of improved technology and better care for within their communities. This will not only improve their situation but also tackle the financial issues of an ageing population and improve social cohesion, and implement a community of practice dedicated to the problem at hand.

Cross border approach

A cross-border approach allows different but compatible approaches, bringing them together to provide stronger cocreation. The countries in the 2 Seas area are at different stages of a comparable journey, together we can understand more of the journey, and the different routes we have taken/could take in the future. Each part of the 2 Seas area has one or more established concepts from which others can learn. The problem of an ageing population and ensuring the wellbeing of older people via a financially and socially sustainable model is prominent in all four countries. Cross-border learning will allow partners to combine their expertise in different areas to ensure a holistic approach. EMPOWERCARE combines partners with expertise in: health technology, social cohesion solutions, and integrated workforce approaches, and local organisations with appropriate access to the target population


The Netherlands

  • SWVO
  • HZ University of Applied Sciences
  • Digital Health Lab
  • Gemeente Schouwen-Duivenland
  • Gemeente Sluis
  • Stichting ViaZorg


  • The Health and Europe Centre
  • Zorggroup H. Hart
  • Kent County Council
  • Conseil Départmental Council
  • Provincie Antwerpen
  • University of Brighton
  • Canterbury Christ Church University
  • VZW Wieltjesgracht
  • Familiehulp VZW
  • BOONE N.V.


EMPOWERCARE final days and final report

After three years, the international part of the EMPOWERCARE project is coming to an end. Currently, we as a project team are busy with the final stages of that part of the project. This feels like a good time to tell you about some of the results and about the things we learned along the way and we would like to thank all parties involved.

29 March 2023
everything fell into place during Smerdiek Zorgt

Smerdiek Zorgt. Where to start? Some days everything just falls into place and that was definitely what happened on 10 January during Smerdiek Zorgt regarding public interest, enthusiastic reactions and rounding of the EMPOWERCARE project as a whole.

19 January 2023
on the social theory and how we work – an extensive talk with Petra and Hans

The Social Theory forms the basis for the Solidarity University’s work method. The theory can be found in all of the Solidarity University’s projects (in the nature of the projects but also in how these projects are approached). The fact that these projects are all about people and how they interact with one another and the fact that there is a lot of room for reflection and self-reflection as well as learning about learning … All that goes right back to the Social Theory.

12 May 2022
photovoice method in practice

The Tuus in Smerdiek initiative works hard on connecting (the inhabitants of) the village of Sint- Maartensdijk. They now use the Photovoice method to see what connects people in the village.

5 April 2022