Photo copyright: Hannah Müller
Demographic ageing in the EU is leading to more and more people engaging in informal care giving. It is the backbone of care provision in Europe: around 100 million of family carers across the EU provide over 80% of all care, from which 2/3 are women, mainly daughters (in law) and wives/partners. In addition, the number of people affected by degenerative diseases is increasing, among which Alzheimer’s disease represents about 10 million.
At the same time, key social changes, such as the massive access of women to education and to the labour market, have greatly impacted care provision. A shortage of labour supply in caring services is expected to reach 20 million by 2025.
IPERIA, a VET provider and certification body for care workers
Diputación Provincial de Jaén, a provincial government
WBS Training, a VET provider
La Compagnie des Aidants, an association of informal care
WIAB, a research institution on labour market and education research
EUROCARERS, a European umbrella organisation working with and for carers at EU level
To reach this main project goal, 2 main objectives were fixed:
To design, develop and test (in France, Germany and Spain) a tailored blended training programme, and
To develop a roadmap for the recognition and certification of the skills acquired by informal carers thanks to TRACK training and their caring experience, enabling to valorise those skills and to identify professionalising perspectives for those wishing so.
To do so, a study to map the learning needs and the training offers available for carers in the EU was conducted. It involved 58 experts consulted, 26 publications, 8 initiatives and 10 EU projects reviewed. Its conclusions were validated by 3 focus groups gathering a total of more than 40 stakeholders, among which informal carers, care and health professionals and representatives of local communities.
The study highlighted the need of adapted training, the obstacles (lack of time, replacement for caring during training), the preference for blended learning (face-to-face and online) and the most relevant issues (information about Alzheimer, stress management, self-care, communication and daily activities).
Based on these results, a training programme was designed in 4 languages (EN/FR/ES/DE) and tested by around 60 participants. A short (about 20h), blended, and micro-learning-based training was proposed, including:
The Training kit: user’s guide and face-to-face,
Online resources: eLearning contents, quiz and info sheets.
According to the evaluation, 90% of the informal carers were satisfied and 84% considered the training as operational, helping them to be aware of the caring skills and soft skills developed (care planning, resources finding, communication and stress management, etc.).
In parallel, a feasibility study was conducted to explore further development of the training and certification perspectives, on the basis of interviews with 6 national and 2 international certification experts as well as the analysis of 25 good practices and projects at national and EU level, 8 initiatives and 10 EU projects.
The conclusions highlighted the importance of using existing tools and mechanisms (available professional certifications and available processes for the validation of experience in care sector), as well as ensuring online free open access to the training programme to guarantee long-term impact.
These conclusions were validated as well by 3 focus groups that gathered more than 60 stakeholders and experts (informal carers, professional caregivers and health professionals, policy representatives, decision makers, validation experts, VET professionals and information providers for the elderly and public employment services, recruitment agencies and enterprises) who considered TRACK training as a facilitation tool for empowerment, professional positioning and employability for informal carers.
All these results enabled the drafting of a roadmap for the recognition and certification of the skills of informal carers, validated as well during the project’s final conference in Brussels. This event gathered around 80 participants, stakeholders and experts in the field of informal care and training, as well as representatives of the European Parliament and the European Commission, who made it possible to attain a reinforced dissemination and sustainability.
In conclusion, this project confirmed the acute need for accessible and relevant training for informal carers, the underdeveloped opportunities offered by ICT, and the potentials offered by such trainings opportunities for recognising, validating and developing skills that are highly valuable on the labour market. However, a multiplicity of obstacles prevent the vast majority of carers to follow this path, notably the lack of accessible and relevant training opportunities that are tailored to their needs, and the difficulties associated with the validation and the recognition of skills at national level.
Besides these, one significant barrier when aiming at offering informal carers pathways to training and employment is simply the ability to reach out to carers who often suffer from social exclusion and do not recognise themselves as carers, being unaware of the skills and competences they have been gaining through their caring activities.
The current Erasmus+ project Care4Dem is currently exploring the potentialities of online peer support groups for supporting informal carers. According to the initial findings, peer support – in particular when it’s embedded in a range of support services – is highly valued by informal carers, and recommended by health professionals, vocational training professionals as well as academic research. It can help informal carers to break their isolation, recognise themselves as carers, and develop digital literacy. Indeed, it can be an open door towards further opportunities including, among others, life-long training and renewed employment opportunities.
To download the TRACK training materials and information, please visit the website.
Claire Champeix is Policy Officer at Eurocarers. She has an extensive experience of policy work, research and project coordination in the social field at the local and European levels. She has worked with social NGOs at the European level for more than 13 years, and contributed to efficient lobbying and awareness raising strategies aimed at developing social cohesion. Previously, she has been active to promote the rights and the participation of people experiencing poverty, discrimination and social exclusion. She has also been working with local authorities for 7 years.
Gloria Ortiz holds a degree in law and political sciences, and a master on European law. She has been working since 2007 as coordinator of European projects within different programmes such as Erasmus+, INTERREG, LIFE and FP7. She has also experience as financial auditor of EU projects and structural funds. She is proficient in Spanish (mother tongue), English, French, Italian and Catalan. She us currently Manager of EU projects and partnerships at IPERIA L’Institut, where she has coordinated several EU projects such as Carenet, Carer+, TRACK or PRODOME, being the last two both Erasmus+ projects.
This blog was published during the 'Caring & Learning' special focus week.
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