North Denmark: More Life Project

Date published: 5 March 2012
Flagship initiative: European Year 2012 of Active Ageing & Solidarity between generations
Address: University College of Northern Denmark, Nursing School, Aalborg and Hjoerring, Denmark
Contact person: Karin Naldahl, senior lecturer, MHH, RN
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Why have you selected this example?

The amount of ageing people worldwide is supposed to increase over the next 15 years from about 600 million of people to 2.5 billion. In Europe the ageing population is a result of two developments; the growing number of people of 65 years and more and the decreasing number of children age 0-14 years (1). The fact that people live longer is a clear trend. It is also a fact that many old people are going to live very long with multiple diseases, frailty and weakness (2). According to the change in age structure there will be fewer persons in the future and fewer hands to take care of old people in hospitals, homecare, nursing homes etc. But the need for care, support and solidarity between care givers and care takers - and between generations - will still exist.

On the other hand, several research programs in western societies show problems among healthcare staff and healthcare students who take care of the very weak, old persons. Negative and idiosyncratic attitudes towards old persons’ mental health and coping capacities for physiological based comorbidities exist. Caregiving for old, weak and maybe demented persons, especially in nursing homes seems unattractive for a future career (3.4). Furthermore this means difficulties to attract young healthcare and social professionals (5).

The facts mentioned a need for education programmes which move staff members and students towards a more positive and empirically based approach towards elderly. This calls for experience  and communication between healthcare professionals and old people which can make eldercare meaningful and satisfying.

The More Life project addresses these challenges as well as the EU flagship initiatives about Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.

The MORE LIFE project took place from August 2007 to June 2010 as a cooperation project between

  • University College of Northern Denmark UCN ;Occupational Therapy and Nursing Study (BA level) and two schools in region Mid Jutland (basic level)
  • 24 regional nursing homes and day care operations
  • VEGA, a sub-institution of the Danish Gerontology Association.

The project focused on four areas of daily life; Mealtimes, Out-door Life, Evening- and Night Life and Conversations. The project applied the so called Breakthrough Method. Briefly explained the idea of the Breakthrough Method is  

A) to gain knowledge of best practice in a specific healthcare area, for example a nursing home
B) to bring this knowledge into a new nursing home
C) to apply knowledge from Nursing Home A at a specific field which Nursing Home B wants to develop. Knowledge from Nursing Home A will never just be transferred to Nursing Home B but it will be translated into new knowledge.

Life quality for the elderly who participated in the project increased with more activity and more life. The project also enhanced staff members’ ability to express values in caregiving for elderly and provided skills, job motivation and satisfaction for caregivers.

In line with the results, More Life project addresses EU flagship initiatives; platform The European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012, plus EU visions about Life Long Learning.

How much does this flagship initiative impact upon adult learning in your region – i) very much; ii) from time to time; iii) not very much. Please explain.

The initiatives impact in different ways and degrees upon adult learning in regions North and Mid Jutland.

In more than half of the involved nursing homes the philosophy of More Life project is integrated in institution values and caregiving. Staff members also spread knowledge from the project into new institutions. This transfer is a key point in The Breakthrough Method.

For VEGA it is also a key point to transfer knowledge developed in practice into the field of theory which here means to healthcare education institutions (basic, bachelor or diploma level). In this way education institutions also become part of knowledge spreading. In other words; the project outcome turns into a continuous learning spiral. The spiral effect happens from time to time due to curriculum or initiatives in the participating education institutions.

What bearing do the flagship’s targets have on adult learning provision in your region?

Region North Jutland and University College of Northern Denmark participated in two of the four More Life sub-projects; Out-door life and Evening- and Night Life. The sub-projects utilised skills and expertise of partner organisations. The projects met local demands for learning and ensured positive outcomes. The project can help to inform wider development of adult learning for healthcare professionals across and outside the region (knowledge sharing) especially about how to enhance staff members’ qualifications.

Furthermore, the More Life project bridges the gap between practice and theory and it addresses;

  • ethical demands in caregiving for old people in general
  • basic skills for students and employees (trained and unskilled) in caregiving for old people
  • demands in bachelor education to participate in developing and researching programs

Finally, the More Life project has possibilities to;

  • promote community and civic participation (the Out-door Life subproject)
  • promote usable knowledge in the field of voluntary work

How can your experience better inform EU policy makers about adult learning through this initiative?

The More Life project is an example of cross professional and cross institutional collaboration for enhancing life quality for care depended elderly.

The project and the Breakthrough Method is an effective, easy and cheap method to apply - a brilliant alternative to enhance caregivers’ competences and good practise in times of economic crisis.

Within a specific focus of adult learning the project outcome is also a good example of Lifelong Learning, it corresponds to Grundtvig’s philosophy as well as evident knowledge about adult learning motivation; adults learn what it is meaningful for them to learn (6).

Furthermore the More Life project and its method bring new theory and a new pedagogic method into gerontological healthcare education.

The More Life project represents the value of partnership working, and its method and its results in eldercare institutions can be used by EU partners. To EU policy makers it highlights the value implications of successful active ageing and adult learning.

How can the flagship initiative enhance the delivery of adult learning in your region?

The project enhanced caregivers’ positive attitudes towards the elderly and their abilities to look for old persons’ resources and values related to everyday life. These results are important according to the attitude problems mentioned in the beginning of this paper.

The More Life approach is one that University College of Northern Denmark, VEGA and the participating eldercare institutions are proud to pass on to other areas in- and outside the region. The project can promote partnership collaboration, institutional engagement, good practise and a professional identity for staff members.

The project’s Know How is used in different ways in our region. For example;

In eldercare institutions; to build up education programs for staff members (more life and rehabilitation, more life / cooking and mealtimes, etc.)

In healthcare education institutions; to build up new projects in our UCN Communication Knowledge Centre, to develop healthcare curriculum (basic, BA and/or diploma level). University College Northern Denmark also finds possibilities to mix knowledge from the More Life project within the (hopefully) coming ELLAN project 2012 – 2015

(ELLAN = European Lifelong Learning Ageing Network).


  1. National Statistics, Denmark and UK
  2. Ewans L.K. Mental health issues in ageing. Retrieved from the Hartford Institute for geriatric Nursing website 2008;
  3. Malmedal W, Ingebretsen O, Saveman BI. Inadequate care in Norwegian nursing homes – as reported by nursing staff. Scand. J Caring Sci, 2009;23:231-
  4. Puentes W D, Bradway C K and Aselage M: Older Adult Mental Health – Teaching Senior-level Baccalaureate Nursing Students What They Need to Know. Journal Of Gerontological Nursing, 2010;36( 7):44-53
  6. Illeris K. Læring (Education). Frederiksberg: Roskilde Universitetsforlag; 2004