Description of Innovation

The Department of Protection & Promotion of Public Health of the Directorate of Social Policy and the Health Citizen Service Center (KEP) of the Municipality of Heraklion Attica in collaboration with the Alzheimer's Society of Athens, the National Inter-Municipal Network of Healthy Cities-Health Promotion (EDDYPYPI) initiated in April 2019, the operation of a new structure, the "Counseling Station for Dementia". It was created with the primary goal of effective intervention in the community and especially in the elderly, through the development of mental empowerment groups. The intervention of this Station extends to three levels: The first is the level of Evaluation, through scientific tools such as MMSE, CDT and GDS. The second of the Function of the Mental Empowerment Groups (exercises of memory, attention, speech, orientation, re-learning of material, application of mnemonic techniques, etc.) and the third is that of the Liaison, with specialized mental health services. The general objectives achieved with the operation of mental empowerment groups are located in the utilization of Local Government structures such as KAPI, KIFI, etc., in direct access to the target group and in the prevention, maintenance and improvement of the cognitive and functional level of the individual.

Reasons for Innovation

Dementia, more commonly Alzheimer's, is a major medical, social and economic problem due to increased life expectancy. Mental empowerment programs are one of the most effective non-pharmacological interventions and aim to stabilize or even improve the cognitive state of the individual by utilizing his cognitive functions that remain at a satisfactory level.

Objectives of Innovation

The specific goals, implemented through the program, can be social, psychological, spiritual, physical, while the ultimate goal remains the creation of a city friendly to elderly and Dementia through the transition to a society where people will be treated equally and will be able to use their potential. The operation of the Dementia Counseling Center, with the exception of the COVID-19 period and the bans it brought, is in the stage of full implementation and enrichment with new programs while the first significant and measurable results have been produced, to the beneficiaries, such as: -Reduction of depressive symptoms and stress reduction. -Improvement of the general mental and physical condition. -Development of interpersonal and social relations. -Reduction of social exclusion. Enhancing activism, empathy and emotional security. - Optimistic approach to life.

Innovation results

Due to the increased participation and the great impactthat the structure had on the reference population, today there are: -4 groups of mental empowerment for prevention (2 days a week) -1 group of creative expression and reading ΄΄I express and discuss, strengthening mind and soul΄΄ (1 day per week) -1 group of physical strengthening-fall prevention -and participation of people with moderate stage of dementia in the visual arts group of 3rd KAPI. The main benefit of the action is to provide a better quality service and to improve accessibility to it. To date, the beneficiaries of the mental empowerment groups exceed , and for this reason it was considered necessary both to expand them and to create new groups. The quantitative goal of participation in the teams was achieved at 100% initially while in less than a year of operation of the teams the number of participants doubled.

Design stage

Based on sub-no. 83 / 29-03-2011 decision of the Municipal Council of the Municipality of Heraklion, Attica, with which it decided its inclusion in the National Inter-Municipal Network of Healthy Cities - Health Promotion, EDDYPPY, of the World Health Organization, WHO. No. 271 / 25-10-2011 decision of the Board of Directors on the approval of the creation of one (1) Municipal Health Prevention Center (KEP Health) in the Municipality, in order to provide health prevention services to the residents, the planning was carried out The operation of the Consulting Station included the following steps: 018: Training of the 2 executives of the Social Policy Department of the Municipality of Heraklion, Attica -today responsible for the operation of the Station-, in theoretical (modern and asynchronous training) and practical level by the private Alzheimer's Disease Company of Athens. Selection and preparation of the space that would host the Station due to the proximity to the city center and the autonomy it provided for the implementation of the action. 3/4/2019: Inauguration of the Dementia Counseling Station May 2019: Speeches at the KAPI of the Municipality, in order to inform and raise awareness of members on the issue of Dementia prevention and the operation of the Station in the city. Dementia Counseling Station Managers: Karabetsou Maria, MSc Occupational Therapist, Head of the Department of Protection & Promotion of Public Health of the Municipality of Heraklion, Attica, Member of the Board of the Panhellenic Association of Occupational Therapists (N.P.D.D.), Member of the Scientific Committee Attica, Member of the Teaching Staff of the National Center for Public Administration & Local Government (EKDDA).

Implementation stage

At the implementation stage, the station has been put into operation, providing the services mentioned above. There is no specific duration in the implementation of the program, as it is designed to cover existing and emerging needs of the reference population.

Dissemination Stage Innovation spreads outside and inside the organization. For the dissemination, internal communication channels, the website of the institution, and even the Press Office of the institution are used, as well as presentations in seminars and workshops, the social media, etc.


Innovation was developed at all stages in collaboration with a private body, the National Inter-Municipal Network of Healthy Cities-Health Promotion (EDDYPPY) and the Central Structure of KEP Health. These bodies contributed by offering know-how in the design phase of the program, undertaking the training -theoretical and practical- of the 2 executives of the Municipality and currently in charge of the Counseling Center for Dementia and contributing to the dissemination of action in all stages of its implementation.

Financing and costs

The action was funded from national resources, the institution's budget, and even through the NSRF and other financial funds. Regarding the labor costs, the training -theoretical and practical-, of the 2 executives of the Municipality and currently in charge of the Counseling Station for Dementia, lasted a total of about 60 hours and employed about 10 trainers collaborating in different specialties. Today the Dementia Counseling Center operates exclusively under the responsibility of the 2 executives of the Department of Social Policy and the Department of Protection & Promotion of Public Health, 2-3 days (8 hours) per week.

Challenges and solutions during design, testing and implementation

In the period of the pandemic and its consequences, the Dementia Counseling Center, although it could not continue its operation through the live meetings of the groups, at the choice of its leaders and recognizing the often insurmountable difficulties faced by the elderly, received in time, material at home, with which they engaged creatively, in order to maintain their mental functions, despite all the adverse conditions and the complete isolation to which they were forced.There was also constant telephone communication with the team members and an attempt at their psychological support. Unfortunately, the goal of online conferences could not be achieved due to the extremely limited access of the beneficiaries to their respective media and their low level of familiarity with the necessary technology.

Assessment - description of the necessary conditions for success and sustainability of innovation

Dementia, more commonly Alzheimer's, is a major medical, social and economic problem due to increased life expectancy. Consequently, the operation of the Dementia Counseling Center, covers existing and emerging social needs and in particular deteriorating according to the predictions of the scientific community for the aging population and the challenges regarding the treatment of the elderly.

Experiences, thoughts, findings

The Counseling Center for Dementia of the Municipality of Heraklion, Attica is now officially an Example of Good Practice, after the relevant GOOD PRACTICE NEWSLETTER was recently posted on the website of the Panhellenic Association of General Secretaries of Local Government ΄΄CLOSED http: http:// : // both for Greece and abroad.Indicatively, a delegation of Iranian officials and high-ranking executives of the World Health Organization (WHO), visited the city in January 2020, and attended a presentation by the Heads, M. Karabetsou, with the aim of informing them about the goals and results from the operation of the Station.

Agency: Heraklion Municipality, Attica

Policy area: Social Welfare and Protection, Health

Year: 2018

Type of Innovation: Design and service delivery, Social Innovation

Innovation Stage: Dissemination

Beneficiaries: Special category: the elderly and people with dementia in general

Number of beneficiaries: 120 people to date in mental empowerment groups

Sources of Funding: National Resources, Institutional Budget, NSRF or Other Funds

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