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O4O: Older People for Older People


O4O is an EU Northern Periphery Programme project funded under the 2007-2013 programme. In O4O workers from partner regions across the North of Europe are working with communities to assist communities to meet the service and support needs of their older citizens. O4O workers are working with communities to:

  • Identify their needs for services to help maintain older people living at home;
  • Identify gaps in service provision that would help statutory providers to keep older people living in their homes and communities
  • Develop new ways of providing supporting services involving community members
  • Assist in the development of volunteering, social organisations and social enterprises

O4O is also:

  • Studying the impacts of communities helping themselves
  • Describing the context for developing community self-help in different regions
  • Developing a toolkit to help other communities develop O4O

The kinds of things communities are developing through involvement in O4O include:

  • Community transport
  • Community-owned supported housing for older people
  • Helping schemes
  • Friendship schemes
  • Volunteering to support older people
  • History and culture projects

O4O is not about doing the things that statutory providers are there to do. It is about providing things that statutory providers don’t or cannot provide that improve quality of life for older people. O4O is about supporting service providers.


Nuuk community memebrsWe define older people as those aged 55 and over. There are increasing proportions of older people in the European population. Peripheral regions including the European Northern Periphery have a higher percentage of older people compared with central, urban regions. Thus the needs for services for older people is growing. Service provision is challenged by finding and keeping a range of skilled staff, including nurses and social carers, and high costs of travel in remote areas. As people age, they want to remain living in their home communities, but it has become the trend for older people who cannot cope at home in rural areas to have to move to towns or to residential care in towns. Older people who stay in rural areas may experience exclusion and hardship if they cannot access health and social support. Involving older people to help each other helps to combat social exclusion and promote health and wellbeing. Helping each other is a natural and traditional activity in rural areas. O4O is providing support and confidence to groups of older people in rural communities to research needs for services and activities. O4O is engaging older people's skills, experience and knowledge to identify priorities for supportive services and activities. O4O wants to involve older people as they know their own needs and are a huge source of energy, skills, knowledge and wisdom.

How did it come about

Ardersier, Scottish HighlandsO4O grew from the Our Life as Elderly Northern Periphery Programme project where people said they wanted to remain living in their own communities when older, but were concerned that there would be sufficient supportive services.


Principles of O4O

O4O is guided by the following principles:

  • To maintain older people living in their own homes and communities for as long as possible
  • To promote older people as a positive force
  • To bring generations together to support older people


O4O runs from 2008-2010.

Lead Partner

Jane Farmer
Centre for Rural Health
UHI Millennium Institute
Centre for Health Science
Old Perth Road


Emma Coats

Phone: +44 1463 255887

Main Partners

Lulea Municipality, Lulea, Sweden
Municipalities of Lieksa, Nurmes, Valdemor, North Karelia, Finland
Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Crichton Campus of the University of Glasgow, Dumfries, Scotland
Nuuk Municipality, Greenland
Kainuu Municipality, Finland


The main project funder:

Other project funders include:



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Contact details for the O4O project teams

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