Interactive platform for informal carers launched
Eurocarers, the European association representing family carers, has launched an internet platform of support for family carers in Brussels on 06 May. The platform InformCare is part of the InnovAge project and aims to inform persons caring for family members with disabilities or diseases about health conditions, financial and social support in their member state and contact to other carers who are facing the same problems.
Meeting family carer’s needs with ICT
The platform is responding to a pressing need voiced by many family carers who feel increasingly under pressure: demographic change means that more and more persons will be in need of care, a role traditionally held by families, while less younger people are available to provide family care. In times of austerity, health systems are reducing their support and rely increasingly on the family as well. Often, informal carers are not recognised appropriately by health systems and professionals and are left without peer support or advice. The platform InformCare seeks to support them by providing information and pointing to local solutions for logistical, financial, assistive and emotional support. The idea is that via an ICT platform, support becomes available 24 hours per day when it is needed.
Over 20 million carers
Informal carers are people caring for family members who either have disabilities or chronic health conditions. Most of the time, their work is not recognised by the state or social security. It is estimated that 20 million people across the EU provide over 20 hours weekly of unpaid informal care work. Informal care is often what suits best to persons in need of care and provides a strong emotional support for the cared-for person and the carer. However, carers are also facing risks such as over-burdening, poor mental health or financial difficulties as it becomes difficult to accommodate care responsibilities with professional life.
At the launch of the InformCare platform, Elizabeth Hanson from the Swedish Family Care Competence Centre explained that information and support via ICT can have a positive impact on Quality of Life – if the carer has effectively access to ICT. It is however a challenge, as many informal carers are also ICT illiterates.
Role for employers
Katherine Wilson, from the UK association ‘Employers for carers’ presented work that has been done in the UK: her association created a platform with very easy, to-the-point information for employers on how carers can be better included in companies. The initiative, consisting of a website, e-bulletins, live meetings and a mobile application for carers, has had a great success amongst employers. With one in nine employees being a carer, the initiative could demonstrate the business case for company policies that address carer’s needs.
Better support from the professional care sector
Rebecca Caulfield from Scotland presented new ways in which the National Health Service in Scotland is engaging with informal carers, making them a cornerstone of integrated health and social care strategies. It is important for the health services to identify informal carers early on in order to ‘have them on board’ as partners in the process of healing and caring. An internal e-learning platform has been created by the NHS Scotland to train health care professionals in engaging with informal carers. A national carer’s strategy has been implemented in the last year, which should lead into a Carer Scotland Act in 2015 which gives the informal carer a new role and creates new duties for local authorities to support them.
For more information, please contact Alice Sinigaglia, email@example.com
- The InnovAge project: http://www.innovage.group.shef.ac.uk/
- Eurocarers: http://eurocarers.org/
- The InformCare platform: http://eurocarers.org/innovage (available soon)
Other news from InnovAge:
- 15th International Conference on Integrated Care, 26-27 March 2015, Edinburgh
- New guidelines to support user involvement in social innovation
- Transforming older people from ‘cared-for’ into ‘co-producers of quality integrated care
- Social Innovations Promoting Active and Healthy Ageing – Second INNOVAGE Stakeholder Forum