Demographic ageing in the EU leads more and more people to engage in informal care giving. It is indeed 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 also increasing, among which Alzheimer 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.
In this context, TRACK project addressed socially disadvantaged informal carers dealing with people affected by Alzheimer, to support them during their caring experience and beyond, by reinforcing their well-being, skills, and employability. This multifaceted goal required a complementary consortium, composed by 6 partners from 5 member states:
• 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 carers
• WIAB, a research institution on labour market and education research
• EUROCARERS, a European organisation representing carers at EU level.
To reach this main project goal, 2 main objectives were fixed:
1. to design, develop and test (in France, Germany and Spain) a tailored blended training programme, and
2. 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 them and to identify professionalising perspectives for those wishing so.
To do so, a study to define the learning needs and the training offer 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 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, 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 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 practice 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 on 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 to draft the roadmap for the recognition and certification of the skills of informal carers, validated as well during the final conference of the project in Brussels. 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 possible to attain a reinforced dissemination and sustainability.
For more information, please visit the website https://eurocarers.org/track-2/.