Caregivers’ situation in the EU

Population ageing is one of the greatest social and economic challenges facing the EU. Projections foresee a growing number and share of elderly persons (aged 65 and over), with a particularly rapid increase in the number of very old persons (aged 85 and over). Due to changes in age demography and growing number of seniors, the demand for qualified caregivers will be increasing parallelly. This trend is reflected to some respect in the educational offer of different institutions, like VET schools, educational centers, adult education institutions. However, all of them are focused on development of professional competences of caregivers and forget about fostering soft skills development, which in case of caregivers are crucial. Today, about 60% of care in the EU is provided by informal carers. Nevertheless, even caregivers who went through formal education path present major shortages in a soft skills. Preliminary, on the base of the desk research, the following soft skills were identified as the crucial ones while working with seniors:

1) communication skills 2) being a good listener 3) empathy 4) patience 5) 6) assertiveness 7) keen observation skills 8) being able to empower and motivate 9) ‘thick skin’ skills.

Unfortunately, caregivers are not equipped with sufficient level of soft skills and have no knowledge and awareness of their importance, while other stakeholders like owners of residential/care/nursing houses and seniors themselves more often appreciate caregivers with appropriate personal approach. This approach has the reflection in seniors wellbeing which as now one of EU strategies priority. The competition on a labour market leads us to a situation when unskilled personnel will no be employed.

For the purpose of project realisation following target groups were identified:

• formal and informal caregivers of seniors working as a freelancers or working in nursing/care/residential homes, day care centers. This usually includes professional staff like nurses, physiotherapists, speech therapists and caregivers with no medical background.

• People working in centres of culture or senior clubs who are responsible for organising the free time for seniors. Sometimes in these places work professional animators or therapists, but very often those people had no professional background

• Seniors, adult residents of nursing/care/residential homes, day care centres; those who use assistants for living.

• Participants of centres of cultures and senior clubs.

• Owners of nursing/care/residential homes and day care centres and people responsible for HR policy, stakeholders, decision-makers in the field of senior care.

The partnership of Here4U project aims at:

• increasing the level of seniors` caregivers soft skills

• improvement of competences, linked to their professional practices

• empowering seniors` caregivers

• improvement of the level of seniors` service highlighting the emotional and psychological aspect of seniors` care

• fostering relation between caregiver and senior

• improvement of seniors` wellbeing

• increasing participation and learning performance of seniors

For that reason partnership plan at creating the following outputs:

• IO1 – Diagnostic Tool for Assesment of Soft Skills – the purpose is to develop and test a

multidimensional ICT tool and to identify areas of improvement. It will be a standardized tool prepared according to the psychometric approach. After completion of the questionnaire, every user gets an automatic report which includes the results of the assessment.

• IO2 – E-learning platform fostering soft skills improvement – developed in the latest standards (HTML5, CSS3) and will follow the “Progressive web application” guidelines. This means that the

platform will be fully responsive so that it can be accessed by any device (including mobile devices). Beside this it will be installable as a mobile application on a every mobile device and it will behave as an app.

• IO3 Online course empowering seniors`caregivers – digital guides and materials on increasing their level of crucial soft skills necessary to work with seniors (identified in details in IO1), as well as fostering relation between caregiver and senior and improving seniors` wellbeing by the usage of scenarios and video tutorials ready for immediate implementation while working with seniors.

• IO4 Advocacy document – the collection of best practices and recommendations gathered and adjusted relatively to the concept of the project and disseminated widely amongst the places where the caregivers work, as well as at decision making level.