Thumbs Up from Experts for Carer+ Impacts

The Carer+ 3rd Validation Workshop

On 26th March 2015 ten experts from the European caring community battled a feisty Parisian spring to congregate at FEPEMs offices in Rue de Monceau for the 3rd Carer+ Validation Workshop. The purpose of the workshop -  to review the results of Carer+ and how these results could contribute to policy design in the field of home care.  Following introductions and scene-setting, first on the agenda was a presentation by Lubomir Valenta, representing Vienna-based 3S, on the Carer+ ‘Digital Competence Framework and Certification Process’. This Competence Framework could be described as the backbone of the Carer+ project. It sets out the skills, attributes, attitudes and learning outcomes needed to enable care workers and informal carers to use ICTs in ways that enhance their professional practice and the quality of care they provide to care recipients.  It gives shape and form to the Carer+ training programme, aimed at improving carer’ digital skills. It provides a benchmark against which learning progress can be measured, and ultimately leads to recognition and accreditation of learning outcomes for carers.


Validating Carer+ Training and Certification

The Competence Framework and Certification Process developed and piloted by Carer+ was positively received by the experts, and the discussion moved on to exploring some of the key challenges that Carer+ faces in its attempt to embed the certification approach within existing national and trans-national systems. From this discussion, three key recommendations emerged: the Carer+ partners need to engage more with key networks in EU countries that interface with certification bodies and government agencies, and also with the private sector; the certification model needs to clearly reference relevant policies like ‘growth and jobs’, ‘employability and mobility’ and  the Grand coalition for Digital Jobs; Carer+ needs a clear business and service model that links to the certification process.

Leading on from the Competence Framework and Certification process, the second topic discussed at the workshop was the CARER+ ‘Learning Resources & Curriculum’, presented by Stylianos Hatzipanagos of Kings College London and Rosita di Luigi, University of Macerata.


This, too, was favourably reviewed by the invited guests, who particularly appreciated its ‘blended learning’ approach, combining on-line with face-to-face instruction, and the strong role played by ‘super-trainers’ and mentors in bridging the training model with carers on the ground and making it accessible to them. The experts suggested four ways in which the training programme could be improved: simplifying the instructional language; adding more visual content; reducing trainees’ anxieties from the outset; extending the programme timeframe.


Reviewing Impacts Assessment

The final topic of the workshop was the Carer+ ‘Impacts Assessment’, presented by Margit Kinyik, of Telecentre Europe, co-ordinators of the pilots, and Mara Jakobsone and Andris Melnudris of LIKTA, who provided an ‘on-the-ground’ perspective of how Carer+ was piloted and evaluated in Latvia.


From the data presented, the expert consensus was that the impact assessment demonstrates clear evidence of a positive impact for both carers and care recipients. For carers, Carer+ contributed to improving communications with care managers, administrators and health and social services providers; increased efficiencies in work organisation and task management; adding value to the quality of care provided and improved social and emotional relationships with clients and their families. For care receivers, Carer+ helped to increase independence, improve some aspects of quality of life and forge a closer bond and relationship with the care provider. The experts agreed that this evidence was compelling – but it now needs to be converted into making a case for wider embedding of the Carer+ approach, tools and services within the caring sector. All in all, the Paris Validation Workshop resulted in a positive endorsement for Carer+ by the participating experts. The next step for Carer+ is to put these positive results to good use by applying them to a broader sustainability strategy.

By Dr Joe Cullen, Arcola Research, UK