Focusing on Outreach

Luca Rizzo Nervo, Councillor for Welfare of the Municipality of Bologna, outlines the strategic plan to stem the social and health emergency.
Federico Bartolomei

In light of the evidence of the deteriorating state of public health that we are unfortunately witnessing in this historical period, what is the municipality’s strategic plan to stem this crisis and continue to respond to the needs of citizens?


The Municipality of Bologna from 2017 onwards has expanded its social spending to further develop social and welfare services for its citizens. In addition to enhancing the wealth of interventions that were already well established in our area, we have initiated important developments. For example, projects for family caregivers, addiction prevention projects for youth in schools and recreational venues, support for vulnerable families in terms of parental relations, and a very structured support system for the integration of immigrants. Today we are working on a new set of proposals to address the health needs of our citizens focusing on “outreach.” In other words, it is not enough to have our services in the neighbourhoods. We want to reach the different areas of the city where health needs are most pressing. We also want to work on prevention and on the ability to connect people with the health and social service system.


Bologna has demonstrated for years that the public-private combination works because it does not result in public disengagement. On the contrary, it has maintained its role of guidance and direction. The relationship between the Istituto Cavazza and the Municipality of Bologna is an example of this. What do you think about this and in terms of the future?


To this administration, collaboration and transparency is essential. Not only do we work with the private social sector, in the sense of entrepreneurial activity, but also with associations, parishes, informal groups and even members of the public. Over time, we have built up tools that allow us to be fully transparent with everyone. We have recently developed a true pact for shared administration because we firmly believe that building networks means increasing the level of well-being of every single citizen of this city.

The Cavazza Institute has always operated a Technology Help Centre and an educational counselling service that offer blind and visually impaired persons of all ages the possibility of identifying, under the guidance of specialists, the most appropriate aids and strategies to achieving autonomy and dependence in everyday life activities. Obviously, this service cannot be separated from the collaborative relationship between the Cavazza Institute, the Azienda Ausl and the city hospitals. What do you think of this model and how do you intend to consolidate or develop it?Luca Rizzo Nervo - Councillor on Welfare for the City of Bologna


As I said, collaboration for us is not a concession to the demands coming from the territory, or a mere matter of consensus, but a policy aimed at promoting well-being. The healthcare sector is increasingly approaching this idea following the Covid experience. The establishment of Community Houses in each neighbourhood, for example, will have precisely this function. We need to create places where citizens not only go for clinical examinations or specialist visits, but also where they can find opportunities for socializing, health promotion projects and accompaniment towards indispensable solutions to improve their quality of life such as aids and home adaptation. And all this has to be done with the associations and all of the community stakeholders.


The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered and accelerated innovative processes otherwise likely to take longer, such as the digitalization of many public and private services. Among other initiatives, the Cavazza Institute launched the Limitless Project aimed at teaching elderly people with vision loss how to use the accessibility functions of PCs, tablets and smartphones for activities of daily living. What plans does the Municipality of Bologna have in the pipeline to stimulate and support this historic change of behaviour that affects so many visually impaired people?


Addressing the digital divide is one of our priorities. With Pnrr funds, for example, we will be launching a series of projects for the digital training and coaching of citizens, which we will implement in the Neighbourhood Houses. Spid, health records, Inps benefits, social housing … these are all benefits that can only be accessed today if you have the possibility to use new technologies in a skilful manner.


We already provide assistance to those who need this support at the Social Services Centres. Access is free. Furthermore, we must make a greater effort to create pathways for people with disabilities through specific applications and tools, drawing inspiration from what your Institute is doing and what it has always done in terms of technology training for persons with disabilities.

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