Online service that supports older adults who have lost their spouse in dealing with prolonged grief 


Project description

Loss of a spouse is a frequent occurrence in later life. While most older adults successfully process this loss and will return to a normal life, a significant proportion is unable to do this. They end up with prolonged grief (PG), a condition where grief symptoms occur longer than 6 months after the loss, and which can result in many mental and physical problems, like poor sleep, cardiovascular problems, depression, loneliness and suicidal tendencies.

In order to prevent PG or to treat it, so that older mourners can lead an active, meaningful and dignified life, we will develop an online grief program: Leaves. Leaves will cater to secondary end-users (family, informal caregivers) by reducing stress. Older adults, informal caregivers and relevant care professionals will, together with the project team, develop the Leaves service model, and, through iterative design and development, will optimize its usability and user experience.


Het overkomt veel ouderen: het verlies van een partner. Waar veel ouderen goed om kunnen gaan met dit verlies, is er ook een groep die hier meer moeite mee heeft. Dit kan leiden tot verlengde rouw, wat op haar beurt weer tot gezondheidsproblemen als slechte slaap, hart- en vaat problemen of depressie kan leiden. In het LEAVES project zal een online service worden ontwikkeld, in de praktijk worden ingebed en geëvalueerd, die ouderen helpt om met dit verlies om te gaan. Binnen deze online service zal een virtuele agent ouderen uitleg geven, oefeningen aanbieden, en de mogelijkheid geven om te reflecteren op het leven met de overleden persoon. De service wordt online aangeboden, maar kan ook worden gecombineerd met bezoeken aan een ‘echte’ hulpverlener. Het project zal lopen van februari 2020 tot en met januari 2023.

Der Verlust des Partners oder der Partnerin ist ein einschneidendes Erlebnis. Die meisten Betroffenen können den Verlust nach einer gewissen Zeit selbst verarbeiten. Ein erheblicher Anteil ist dazu aber nicht in der Lage. Es entsteht eine anhaltende Trauerreaktion, die mit vielen psychischen und physischen Problemen einhergehen. Das LEAVES Projekt entwickelt einen digitalen Trauerbegleitungsdienst, der das Auftreten psychischer Probleme frühzeitig erkennen und vorbeugen, bei der Verarbeitung des Verlusts helfen und wenn nötig auch komplizierte Trauerreaktionen behandeln soll. Zudem wird LEAVES auch die Hinterbliebenen und informell Helfenden bei der Bewältigung ihrer Belastungen unterstützen. Für das Selbsthilfeprogramm wird ein virtueller Begleiter entwickelt, der durch das Programm führt. Wenn nötig wird das Selbsthilfeprogramm durch eine persönliche Beratung durch Fachpersonen per Telefon oder Videokonferenz ergänzt. Die aus dem Projekt resultierende Technologie wird in den Niederlanden, in der Schweiz und in Portugal eingeführt und auf ihre klinische Wirkung sowie ihre Benutzerfreundlichkeit getestet. Ziel ist es, bis zum Ende des Projekts 2023 ein marktfähiges Produkt fertig zu stellen.

A perda de um cônjuge ocorre frequentemente nos últimos estádios da vida. Enquanto a maioria dos idosos processa essa perda com sucesso e retorna a vida normal, uma proporção significativa (25,4%) desenvolve uma condição em que os sintomas do luto persistem levando a sintomatologia, como má qualidade do sono, problemas cardiovasculares, depressão, solidão e tendências suicidas. A fim de impedir o luto prolongado, ou tratá-lo, para que as pessoas mais velhas em processo de luto possam levar uma vida ativa, significativa e digna, vamos desenvolver um programa on-line de luto: LEAVES. O LEAVES será direcionado para utilizadores finais secundários (familiares, cuidadores informais), reduzindo o stress. O LEAVES ajudará estes idosos a processar a perda de um cônjuge num ambiente on-line empático. O LEAVES pode detectar pessoas em risco de complicações e descobrir tendências negativas na sua vida emocional e, assim, agir em conformidade. O serviço proporciona maioritariamente tratamento on-line, que será combinado com apoio por telefone ou pessoalmente quando necessário. O serviço LEAVES facilita o processo de luto, fortalece a resiliência e o bem-estar da pessoa viúva e acelera o retorno à participação na sociedade.


AAL research project

Leaves project is funded by the Active and Assisted Living Programme (AAL). It is a three country project, also financed by the following country agencies:

Co-financed by:



2nd Plenary Meeting, 3  - 4   of September

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September 2020

On the 3rd and 4th of September the Swiss representation of the LEAVES team hosted the second plenary meeting of the project in the University of Bern, Switzerland. Complying to all recommendations to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, 13 people participated physically in the meeting and colleagues from Psychiatric Department at the Health Unit of Baixo Alentejo (Portugal) and DELA Natura- en levensverzekering N.V. (the Netherlands) joined via teleconference.


The discussions in the meeting were centered around three topics: service model design, roadmap for technology development in the upcoming 6 months, and ethical procedures. The meeting also marks the release of the first prototype of the LEAVES service, which aims to demonstrate the main functionality of delivering an online intervention to support bereavement through a virtual coach.


After the meeting was concluded, the project coordinator accompanied by other project members had a very pleasant and fruitful meeting with two members of the Dutch Embassy in Bern to discuss exploitation possibilities of the LEAVES service in Switzerland.

We would like to thank the Swiss team for the hospitality and hope to see you all again soon!

Leaves public website is now online!

March 2020

Welcome to Leaves!

Feel free to find more about the ProjectTeam, Main Results and Contact information!


Project kick-off in Enschede, the Netherlands

February 2020

On the 12th and 13th of February, a total of 19 colleagues representing the 9 partners collaborating in LEAVES gathered in Enschede, the Netherlands, for the kick-off meeting of the project.

After many online meetings, this was the first time we met each other face-to-face. Therefore, the first day started with an introductory round and short presentations from each partner. After that, the core LEAVES components were introduced: the LIVIA online bereavement program (by the University of Berna), the Before You Leave application (by DELA) and the Virtual Agent platform (by RRD). The first day ended with a hands-on workshop organized by the colleagues from National Foundation for the Elderly. This workshop aimed to start the discussion about the service model, by asking each pilot site (the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland) to draft persona’s and patient journey’s meaningful to the LEAVES service model.

The second day was mostly dedicated to the plans for the technology development and integration of the different components of LIVIA. The main discussions evolved around the end-user engagement at all phases of the technology development and the definition of a roadmap towards the first prototype at the end of the first six months of the project. Finally, there was time dedicated to the coordination and general management of the project (e.g. internal communication tools and advisory board engagement) as well as plans for dissemination and communication. The next project meeting will take place after the summer.

The meeting was hosted by the coordinating partner, Roessingh Research and Development, and counted with participation of members from all partners collaborating in the project.

©2020 Leaves - AAL project