ICT Support to Those Providing Care to Elderly: Pilot Training Activities in Greece in the Realm of the DISCOVER Project

ICT Support to Those Providing Care to Elderly: Pilot Training Activities in Greece in the Realm of the DISCOVER Project

Efstathios A. Sidiropoulos, Vasiliki I. Zilidou, Maria A. Karagianni, Lazaros I. Ioannidis, Evangelia D. Romanopoulou, Konstantina I. Karagiozi, Niki Pandria, Evangelos Paraskevopoulos, Panagiotis D. Bamidis
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8234-4.ch021
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This chapter discusses the training needs of elderlies' caregivers on Information Communication Technologies (ICTs). More precisely it describes the carers' digital skills diversity and efforts which include a broad range of skill and content learning needs. This work is part of the project DISCOVER that aims to develop competencies for EU carers. A thorough analysis of the followed training activities as well as the service and pilot methodology in four European countries is presented. The purpose of this chapter is to describe the existing limitations that carers face in ICT training and propose an efficient model for the establishment of an e-learning system for professional and family elderly caregivers.
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The demographic ageing that has been witnessed in Europe during the last decades constitutes an unprecedented challenge for the human society especially regarding the financial sustainability of health and care systems. This challenge may be somewhat moderated by recent advances in information and communication technologies (ICT). These technologies can provide a wide variety of tools aiming to enhance understanding of aging effects as well as to provide self-guided support with regard to individualized conditions and needs, which may alleviate the constant addressing to specialized health and care systems. Thereby these technologies may be used for assisting the healthcare of elderly people, while maintaining the quality of their carers’ life and their self-confidence in satisfactory levels (Schmidt et al., 2011). Recent informal statistics report that there are 1.5 million people in UK caring for a relative or friend with a mental health problem or dementia (Arksey, 2003). There is evidence from numerous surveys in the UK that carers suffer from longstanding physical health problems and are strongly affected by stress, anxiety and depression. Research revealed that 50% of carers believed that their health was adversely affected by their caring role (HDTI, 2012). Over a 100 million people in Europe care for a family member, partner, relative or friend. With demographic changes there will be an increased demand for quality care but public services are unlikely to meet all of this demand, so family members are expected to take on more and more complex care tasks and make more demands on stretched professional health care workers. Home carers can experience feelings of isolation because they are less part of a professional community compared to, for example, staff in a care home. They will need ways to find answers to care questions or psychological support to help them fulfill their role. Online information, advice and guidance and access to a community of peers and experts can help, but only if it is easily accessible and in formats that are inexpensive, intuitive and easily understood.

It apparently widely known that carers, both formal and informal, have very limited digital skills due to existing constraints such as time, resources, age, and capacity. Therefore, they have not been in a position to connect to the so called digital revolution. As such carers, and those they care for, have not been in a position to use and exploit new and emerging digital devices and social media such as web, digital TV, touchscreens, smartphones, games-consoles, video conferencing, and social networks for their mutual benefit. The project “DISCOVER” is funded by the European Commission. It adopts an approach of combining healthcare training and experiential learning paradigms within an online educational environment, in order to build a tutoring virtual environment which can provide information and knowledge on a variety of carer education topics and enhance the users’ decision-making skills. Thereby its aim is to raise the profile of social inclusion of formal and informal carers with emphasis to those at risk of long term social and financial exclusion.

DISCOVER supports three main policy areas:

  • Social Inclusion - Improving carers lives

  • Skills and Employability – Improving digital skills of carers and older people with an excellent potential to support carers with a migration background through multi-lingual content

  • Ageing population – Independent Living – Improving carers ability to provide care and improving independence of older people through mentoring

The key indicators which are related to the efficacy of DISCOVER are:

Key Terms in this Chapter

E-Learning: The delivery of content via electronic media, such as the internet, video, interactive TV and CD-ROM. E-learning encompasses all learning undertaken, whether formal or informal, through electronic delivery.

Information and Computer Technologies (ICTs): An umbrella term covering technologies used for the manipulation and communication of information.

Informal Carer: An informal carer is a care giver that cares for an individual or group of individuals in some capacity but it is not their main profession and may or may not get paid to undertake this role. The carer in this capacity would generally be a relative or friend of the person.

Formal Carer: A formal carer is identified as a person who is employed in a professional care capacity that delivers services of care to an individual or group of individuals and who is paid.

e-Inclusion / Social Inclusion / Active Inclusion: e-Inclusion means both inclusive ICT and the use of ICT to achieve wider inclusion objectives. It focuses on participation of all individuals and communities in all aspects of the information society. e-Inclusion policy, therefore, aims at reducing gaps in ICT usage and promoting the use of ICT to overcome exclusion, and improve economic performance, employment opportunities, quality of life, social participation and cohesion. Source: European Commission, http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/einclusion/index_en.htm AU33: The URL http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/einclusion/index_en.htm has been redirected to http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/life-and-work. Please verify the URL.

DISCOVER: Project Acronym for the project funded by ICT PSP Call 5 Digital Competencies and Social Inclusion. DISCOVER stands for Digital Inclusion Skills for Carers bringing Opportunities, Value and Excellence.

Care Training Provider: An agency/supplier of training services specifically aimed at the carer or cared for. This would include all training providers that deliver training for not only the professional formal carer but also informal carers.

Virtual Worlds: A virtual world is an online community that often takes the form of a computer based simulated environment through which users can interact with one another and use and create objects. The term has become largely synonymous with interactive 3D virtual environments, where the users take the form of avatars visible to others. These avatars usually appear as textual, two-dimensional, or three dimensional representations, although other forms are possible (auditory and touch sensations for example). Some, but not all, virtual worlds allow for multiple users.

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