CARER+ (CARER+)

Published on: 27/11/2012
Document

The Carer+ project aims to identify new competences of care-workers to support older persons in the home - anticipating a new and vital role for care workers.  To achieve this, the partners develop a set of learning paths and educational resources for mobile and work based learning, that responds to major challenges to care-workers professionalisation: isolation, access to technology, flexibility of study modes, lack of support and motivation, formal accreditation, recognition of prior experience, and scalability. To help achieve this, the Carer+ partnership is issuing a ‘call for interest’ to stakeholders and users in the field to participate in the evaluation processes of the project.

Stakeholders and users can join the project activities by:

  • Reviewing the outcomes at key milestones of the project
  • Ensuring quality outputs
  • Keep the project objectives and outputs in-line with stakeholders needs and interests
  • Detect critical issues, potential risks and conflicts at early stage and keeping the governing bodies informed about them

The Carer+ partnership invites you to join in and get involved at different levels depending on your time and interest. We are calling on all stakeholders and users to get involved in evaluation and peer reviewing in a set of actions carried out through this project by:

  • Actively engaging in our activities through our European portal (discussions, online surveys etc.) to develop the needed knowledge to make Carer+ a successful and useful service for you and the sector
  • Participating in Review and Validation workshops* on the themes of :
    • Identification of digital competences of care workers
    • Curriculum and learning resources
    • Impact assessment and policy recommendations

*Full details of the kinds of activities implemented, together with logistical information (for example coverage of expenses and other costs) will be made available during the project life cycle.

If you wish to join the Carer+ Users/Stakeholders Group, please forward your details: Institution -if applicable-, Sector, address, name, position and email address and indicate what level of commitment you are interested in (discussions; online surveys; validation activities) to: Véronique Maes at: vmaes@skynet.be

Policy Context

Today, it is possible for almost everyone to receive the care they need at home, even if they suffer from multiple chronic illnesses. Yet we find that frail older people still move to assisted living facilities or nursing homes. For many, that transition is driven by a lack of qualified caregivers, an absence of basic services such as transportation, no access to appropriate housing, and loneliness. Recent research has shown that a large segment of the growing number of older people in Europe can be encouraged to use online services, and that modern ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) and AAL (Ambient Assisted Living) technologies can radically improve their quality of life by supporting ageing well in the community and at home.  But a key factor that determines how well these ICT-based services work when integrated into older people’s lives is the level of available human resources in the domiciliary care working sector and the set of ICT competences they possess.

Major differences exist amongst European countries with respect to the role of care workers and their ability to act as mediators or facilitators for the diffusion of ICT tools and services among older people. In most countries, there is little evidence of care-related ICT use among care workers, and only in a few countries is there evidence that  care workers play a significant role in domiciliary long term care and are actively involved in ICT projects. The development and uptake of ICT services via support of the carer is still limited and to a large extent their value remains unrecognised by care workers.

Carer+, co-financed by the European Union, aims to support the development of digital competences and digitally-supported professional skills for care workers, with a particular focus on applying these skills and competences to enhance the quality of care provided for care recipients. The primary target groups addressed are the relevant actors of social care sector.  Our goal during the pilot project is to involve around 500 care workers and caregivers, their trainers within VET and Adult Education, older people, policy and decision makers, families, associations of care recipients and caregivers in five European Countries.

Description of target users and groups

The primary target groups addressed are the relevant actors of social care sector: care workers and caregivers, their trainers within VET and Adult Education, older people, policy and decision makers, families, associations of care recipients and caregivers.

Our findings document the high prevalence and variety of unmet needs among these groups:

  • Carers experience insufficient opportunities of access and participation in Adult Education and in VET; insufficient access to computers and Internet; low qualifications and low ICT skills; isolation at work and lack of support, Lack of awareness of the potential of ICTs for enhancing employability, personal development and social bonding purposes.
  • Older people suffer from insufficient opportunities of access and participation in Adult Education from their own homes; insufficient access to computers and Internet; isolation and loneliness; Low ICT skills, lack of awareness of the potential of ICTs for ageing well in the community and at home, learning to manage and improve everyday life (health, safety, independence), and overall do not take advantage for existing from technological advances to improve their life’s conditions, like smart, unobtrusive ambient intelligence technologies.
  • Trainers do not have access to curriculum and educational resources about social care with ICTs and AAL technologies.
  • Policy and decision makers need to be made more aware of the potential of ICT for social care. In order to build a common European strategy addressing this concern, they need evidence of the impact of professionalisation of care workers in contributing to enhancement of the quality of life of older people.
  • Families, associations of care recipients and care recipients themselves need to be able to trust those who work within close proximity of themselves and their family members and feel that they are dealing with professionals who take pride in their and are motivated towards self development within the roles that they take-on.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The CARER+ project represents a 36 month endeavor that is driven by the innovative use of technologies to enhance and formalize, via certification, the digital skills and competences of care workers and caregivers in the area of ICTs in social care and eHealth to enhance the quality of life of older people in the home, with the concomitant effects of improving and furthering the care worker and caregiver’s own reflective practise, professional pride, mobility and employability.

The strategy being adopted to achieve the project goals is a powerful one that directly targets the educational training needs of members the domiciliary long-term care sector (both care workers and caregivers) via the instantiation of a comprehensive VET orientated learning environment and programme of study that promotes active learning in the place of work. A key component of the strategy is to maintain sensitivity to the specific educational/training background and the working context of the target care worker and caregiver groups and critically, to acknowledge their vital role in mediating the use of eHealth technologies in the home of those they care for.

The key deliverables of the CARER+ project are:

  • The European portal for the professionalisation of care workers and caregivers.
  • The Competence Framework for digital knowledge and skills in domiciliary care work and caretaking.
  • The competence framework will be accessible as a downloadable publication, but also as a Competence wiki.
  •  Handbook for certification of digital competences in the social care sector.
  • A series of tools and resources for training providers that include:
    • An online learning environment comprising interlocking VLE, social networking service and e-Portfolio system w
    • a Curriculum for the development of digital competences of care workers
    • Set of learning resources and evidence samples.
    • Micro-certification system, including the proficiency badges.
    • Skills and competence profiling tool for new leaners/users.
  • The Handbook for piloting
  • A piloting phase involving 500 participants in 5 European countries: France, Italy, Romania, Latvia and Sweden.
  • Finally the project develops tools contributing to the exploitation of the products and services created: The Training toolkit for care workers.

Technology solution

The Carer+ web portal is based on a open source Content Management System Application that allows the management of texts, articles, downloadable files; full text search, sitemap, submission of forms (news, events, case studies, open learning resources, directory of members), and documents. It is hosted in a dedicated server and uses MySql an open source database, and almost 100% of the pages are generated dynamically with PHP through an Apache server. The server is a typical LAMP installation (Linux, Apache, Mysql and PHP) and the web server is covered by a firewall for protection against Internet attacks.

The portal will act as the entry point for the interaction of the project team, trainers, care givers and public. The web portal will integrate a number of key services and tools including: Web content (through content management system – both public and private), Learning Management (Moodle), Social networking tools (ELGG) and ePortfolio (ELGG).
The services, as listed above will sit alongside each other on the same platform, this allows integration and interoperability through shared database tables in MySQL. Single-sign on access will be provided throughout the portal through Security Assertion Markup Language(SAML 2.0) an XML-based open standard for exchanging authentication and authorisation data.

  • Li1 is a smart object communicating that integrates a service package from eHealth and eInclusion offering large computational functionalities equipped with a variety of communication technologies: 3G/GPRS/EDGE communication through a Sim card embedded within the LI1, Ethernet connection, Telephony communication, Wifi connection, Bluetooth connection, Zigbee communication, USB 2.0 port, Video Component port, RFID communication (HF, NFC compatibility), made with a strong memory and CPU capabilities and running a Linux OS.
  • The webnapperon is a communication open platform connected to a RFID tag reader that transforms a computer running under Ubuntu or an Internet Tablet in a Smart Networked Object that interacts with the users either by presenting objects pre-configured to the RFID tag reader, or via the touchable screen.
  • Internet tablets, 3G enabled and equipped with video communications solutions using open standards promoted by IMTC (The International Multimedia and Telecommunications Consortium), with running applications developed in line with the standards of practice implemented by Apple IOS4 and Google Android.
Technology choice: Accessibility-compliant (minimum WAI AA)

Main results, benefits and impacts

The key deliverables of the CARER+ project are:

  • The European portal for the professionalisation of care workers and caregivers.
  • The Competence Framework for digital knowledge and skills in domiciliary care work and caretaking. Once developed and tested, the competence framework will serve as a reference structure for care workers’ and caregivers’ competence development, as well as for vocational education and training providers to effectively design and plan training programmes.
  • The competence framework will be accessible as a downloadable publication, but also as a Competence wiki. During the pilots, the competence wiki will be open to the participants to add and comment on any content, module, courses and other resources they have come across, or simply as a way of sharing experiences and providing support related to the development of a given competence. After the pilots, the competence wiki will be available for continuous contribution, but subject to moderated contribution based on a distribution of roles and rights within the system.
  • Following a series of workshops in Paris, Sweden and Italy involving stakeholders in the process of certification drafting, we will describe a sustainable process for the certification of digital competences for care workers. This will be the Handbook for certification of digital competences in the social care sector. The handbook will propose scenarios for the development of certification processes in Europe.
  • A series of tools and resources for training providers that include:
    • An online learning environment comprising interlocking VLE, social networking service and e-Portfolio system with federated identity management, and accessed through a single web-based jump point with instances available for hosting each of the piloting language/countries.
    • a Curriculum for the development of digital competences of care workers that comprises learning pathway maps for both non-formal and formal learning pathways in the form of a catalogue in which the learning paths, length, type and mode of study, entry level, activities, and the competence they are aimed at developing are all described. Learning pathways will denote VET and adult learning pathways for care workers and caregiver groups respectively.
    • Set of learning resources and evidence samples. A set of validated learning resources and evidence samples. These will be compliant with W3C standards for accessibility and interoperability and can be delivered via a web browser and are accessible from multiple devices such as computers, handheld devices, personal digital assistants, smartphones and mobile Internet tablets.
    • Micro-certification system, including the proficiency badges. A set of proficiency badges representing the successful development of skills and competences via both the non-formal and formal learning pathways and through the use of the learning environment.
    • Skills and competence profiling tool for new leaners/users. A short profiling tool to test prior learning and experience in key areas relating to the programme to help learners choose correct learning pathways and micro-certification requirements through gaining proficiency badges.
  • The Handbook for piloting describes the methodology, procedures and tools required to prepare and undertake the pilot phases from the recruitment of participants to post-pilot phases. It also integrates an online service within the web portal for recruitment promotion including Q&A sections.
  • A piloting phase involving 500 participants in 5 European countries: France, Italy, Romania, Latvia and Sweden. These are 200 dyads of care workers and care recipients and 50 dyads of caregivers and care recipients. The care workers will be involved in the pilots in the frame of a continuous Professional Development Programme and the care givers will participate via an adult learning programme. They will be piltoign a variety of Smart Networked Objects like the Li1 and the webnapperon, as well as Internet tablets equiped with RFID readers and with running apps adapted to the particular needs of these groups. The localisation and the preparation of end-use documentation is also planned. The piloting phase also involves a training the trainers programme and the delivery of a training programme for care workers and caregivers, and a Impact assessment exercise.
  • Finally the project develops tools contributing to the exploitation of the products and services created: The Training toolkit for care workers; Scenarios of cooperation between care workers and care recipients; Recommendations for the development of digital competences of care workers in Europe; Policy visits and policy recommendations; Local, regional and national workshops and an international conference.

Lessons learnt

The project started jsut now, thus we are in the phase of involving stakeholders.

To help to achieve CARER+’s objectives and outcomes, the project partnership is issuing a ‘call for interest’ to stakeholders and users in the field to participate in the evaluation processes of the project during its lifecycle in order to support the Consortium by:

  • Reviewing the outcomes at key milestones of the project
  • Ensuring quality outputs
  • Keep the project objectives and outputs in-line with stakeholders needs and interests
  • Detect critical issues, potential risks and conflicts at early stage and keeping the governing bodies informed about them

The CARER+ partnership invites you to join in and get involved at different levels depending on your time and interest.

We are calling on all stakeholders and users to get involved in evaluation and peer reviewing in a set of actions carried out through this project by :

Actively engaging in our activities through our European portal (discussions, online surveys etc.) to develop the needed knowledge to make CARER+ a successful and useful service for you and the sector.

By participating*in Review and Validation workshops on the themes of:

  • Identification of digital competences of care workers
  • Curriculum and learning resources
  • Impact assessment and policy recommendations
* Full details of the kinds of activities implemented, together with logistical information (e.g. coverage of expenses and other costs) will be made available during the project lifecycle. Scope: Cross-border, National, Pan-European