Alpine Space
Case Study

Attracting care providers to new communities: CoNSENSo in the Alpine Space in Europe

Aging In Place
Healthcare Access

The CoNSENSo (COmmunity Nurse Supporting Elderly iN a changing SOciety) pilot increased access to care for older adults in the European Alpine Space by training family community nurses to serve in these mountain regions and lead health promotion activities.

The focus: Older adults in the Alpine Space find it more difficult to access care than those who live in less rural and mountainous areas, meaning community members are more likely to have to leave their home to get care. These regions (including Austria, France, Italy and Slovenia) have higher proportions of older adults (ages 65 and older) than others, ranging from a fifth to a third of the total population.

How it works: This model interweaves three objectives in a new approach to care delivery in remote areas of the Alpine region: 1) designing and implementing new public policies based on the social innovation model for older adult care, 2) building training modules for nurses that can be adapted and transferred to training institutions in the Alpine Space and beyond, 3) and stimulating social enterprise development and entrepreneurship among nurses. The program includes individualized plans from family community nurses, regular check-ups, health promotion activities and training for the family community nurses. Central to this program are the nurses who facilitate communication among the older adults, the providers of their health services and those who arrange the social services to holistically address older adults’ needs.

Enabling environment: CoNSENSo required government co-ordination between both regional and national entities as well as nonprofit research organizations. Led by the Piedmont region in Italy, the program includes ten partners from Austria, France, Italy and Slovenia, as well as seven observers representing governmental ministries, health authorities and professional associations from the Alpine Space. EU funding supported the project, allowing the partners to focus on implementation. In the given areas, the health and social sectors were already integrated, serving as the foundation on which CoNSENSo could build. The private health sector proved instrumental as well since nurses were employed privately to reduce the burden on public health services.

Impact: The pilot ran from 2016 to 2018 and ultimately led to a number of outputs such as a policy guidelines toolkit for local authorities, training programs for nurses and the validation of the CoNSENSo Social Business Model in each partner region. For example, 31 nurses actively implemented CoNSENSo. Each nurse, on average, visited 157 clients and performed 340 visits. Though outcomes differed among regions, the pilot was successful in increasing healthcare access and allowing older adults in the Alpine Space to remain in their communities. The pilot has ended, but other stakeholders can use the CoNSENSo policy guidelines toolkit for training, implementation and social business development.

Sources Include

Sources include:

The Story of CoNSENSo 2016-2018. Interreg Alpine Space. Available from:

CoNSENSo - COmmunity Nurse Supporting Elderly iN a changing SOciety [Internet]. Interreg Alpine Space. Available from:

Ippoliti R, Falavigna G, Montani F, et al. The private healthcare market and the sustainability of an innovative community nurses programme based on social entrepreneurship-CoNSENSo project. BMC health services research. 2018;18(1):1-8.