Innovating long-term care policy in Italy from the bottom: confronting the challenge of inclusive local care environments in Lombardy and Piedmont
Italy is one of the countries with the oldest population in the world. In spite of that fact and the alarming estimates about future demographic trends, long-term care (LTC) policy is still struggling to be acknowledged as a relevant issue in the public debate and political agenda. In sharp contrast with the policy inertia prevailing at the national level, in recent years, many territories have been experimenting with new solutions in the field of LTC, addressing the challenge of building more inclusive local care environments for frail (dependent) elderly people and their families. Building upon this, the current paper aims at dealing with the most recent academic literature on social innovation and the policy discourse elaborated by the European Union to i) develop a “working definition” of social innovation, with specific reference to LTC and elderly care; ii) provide a comparative analysis of a set of selected innovative solutions, which fall between full institutionalization and full family-based care, implemented in two Italian regions, namely, Lombardy and Piedmont; and iii) discuss the factors behind the adoption of socially innovative policy solutions at the local level, thereby shedding light on the key role played by new actors and multistakeholder networks.