Improving vocational education for home care professionals: CARESS presents its results
Wednesday 3rd October 2018
The CARESS Erasmus+ project is a unique endeavour to improve vocational education and training (VET) in the field of home care, the importance of which is growing with demographic change and innovative ways to provide care.
For three years, educational institutions and other partners from Finland, Spain and Italy have sketched out the main needs for professional and transversal skills in the sector, created specific and common learning modules and launched a Virtual Community of Practice to help professionals sharing their promising practices.
The main results have been presented at the CARESS conference in Brussels on 03 October 2018.
CARESS, a project filling competency gaps in an ever more important sectors
Pavol Krempaský of the Executive Agency for Education, Audiovisual and Culture, managing the Erasmus+ programme, introduced the bigger idea behind Sector Skills Alliances, designed to address the skills gaps of a sector and to develop trainings based on these identified gaps.
Projects like CARESS have an important role to fill the competency gaps linked to employment sector with growing needs – long-term care and specifically home care are one example for this.
The project coordinator, Serena Alvino of SI4Life, gave an overview over the project: it aimed to support the identification of skills gaps in 31 European countries in the field of homecare, and to foster the design of learning modules that can be used to address these gaps. Three innovative pilot courses have been designed and carried out in order to test the main tools provided by the project. In addition, a Virtual Community of Practice encourages active exchange between learners, professionals and teachers, giving an element of non-formal learning.
Changing care realities require new skills – and virtual exchange!
Sirje Hassinen of the Finnish VET provider Omnia explained how skills gaps were identified.
|In a second part, the pilot courses were presented. Maria Rosa Troiani (teacher of Vittorio Emanuele II - Ruffini) reported that especially the use of the e-Learning platform and new modules on the use of ICT have been very successful with the Italian students and will be permanently included in the Social and Health Operators curriculum. The teachers have been working with the reference persons of Liguria Region, a partner who plays a regulatory function in VET, to integrate the CARESS results in both the regional qualifications index and in the regional guidelines for education of home care practitioners.|
|Jenni Nurmisto of Omnia reported that Finnish students and teachers saw the training materials positively, and they will continue to be used as part of the course.|
|In Spain, the E-Learning platform and the Virtual Community of Practice developed by the project have been very useful, said Leonor Pérez Ruiz of the University of Valladolid, as they helped overcoming wide geographical distances between the students and their master course in the Castilia-y-León Region. In a next phase, the Virtual Community of Practice will be opened to not only include professionals, teachers and learners, but also older people themselves. This way, there will be an active exchange on home care across the sector.|
The way forward: more investment into the skills and the provision of care services is needed
A policy panel brought together the Director of LifeLongLearning Platform, Brikena Xhomaqi, the responsible for the care sector in the European trade union federation UNI Europa Adrian Durtschi and Claire Champeix of Eurocarers, a network representing informal carers. Ms Xhomaqi insisted on the need to find ways to recognise skills obtained via non-formal and informal learning, as many people gain experience in care during their lives and the importance of transversal skills is increasing. Mr Durtschi talked about the relationship between the professional carer and the person in need for care. Both do not speak the same language – symbolically and literally, in many cases. This needs more and better training. Care work gives a unique importance to emotional skills.
What makes the CARESS project unique is its call for transversal skills in all care-related professions. Claire Champeix made the case that the informal carer should be recognised – by care professionals, but also by society, and this should be taught in vocational education and training. Both formal and informal carers face an undervaluation of care work in society, improving training can help to raise that value.
Panellists claimed that there was a lack of political commitment to skills development and the validation of skills in the care sector -although there are many EU-level initiatives on this, but little is taken up by member states. There is also a lack of investment into the care sector, added Adrian Durtschi, especially given that the care needs are predictably rising. Claire Champeix added that if sufficient investments are not made, there will also be a problem in the labour market, as informal carers will bear the burden and face extreme difficulties to remain in full employment and work longer in their life, as it is being recommended for the sustainability of our social protection system’.
CARESS, a lasting project
The conference concluded with several calls to all stakeholders interested in long-term care to make the project live on:
Addressing the gaps in skills in home care for older people in Europe
Wednesday 3rd October 2018, 09:30 – 13:15
Regione Piemonte EU Office Rue du Trône 62, Brussels
Most older persons wish to remain in their own homes and receive there the quality, personalised, person-centred care they need, without being pushed into residential care. Yet, vocational and educational training for care professionals does not always prepare them to meet the needs of older persons in need of care and to adequately face the challenges they may encounter in their professional activity.
The CARESS Erasmus+ project has worked, over the past 3 years, on improving the quality of learning in the vocational and educational training in the field of home care.
The final event of the project, next 3 October 2018 in Brussels, will provide an overview of the gaps in skills in homecare in Europe and present CARESS' solutions to address them. It will include a presentation of the activities performed in pilots in Finland, Italy and Spain, and a policy debate that will reflect on the views of policymakers, service providers and workers.
Master 's program in “Home and distance rehabilitation supported by ICTs”
The Master’s program in “Home and distance rehabilitation supported by ICTs” got underway on May 10th at the University of Genoa.
The Program, funded by the European Social Fund 2014-2020, targets graduated physiotherapists who would like to improve their competencies in the field of homecare.
This initiative has been promoted by SI4LIFE, in collaboration with the University of Genoa, starting from the preliminary results of the CARESS project about the specific gaps in the skills of physiotherapists in the field of homecare for older people.
In a preparatory lesson, Serena Alvino (CARESS Project Coordinator) introduced to the 20 selected students the main features of CARESS project. She explained that the Master’s was designed on the basis of the definition of physiotherapists’ “skills gap”.
Students were involved in a problem-based activity where they had to propose a ranking of the learning outcomes targeted by the Program with respect to their relevance for the professional activity. Knowledge, skills and competencies were both transversal to different homecare professionals and specific to physiotherapists. Initially, all of them proposed an individual ranking; then 3 small groups had to negotiate a new one and finally a common shared ranking was agreed upon by the whole class.
The process which took the class to the final ranking has been subject to an analysis that offers interesting conclusions. Two out of three groups gave priority to transversal competencies, justifying their choice on the importance of a “patient-centered” approach, based on a multidisciplinary assessment which takes into account a new view of older adults’ frailty and active and healthy ageing. The third group gave priority to the learning outcomes targeting physiotherapist-specific skill gaps; many of them justified this choice on the fact that they usually work alone, so they would give relevance to competencies that have an effective impact on their professional practice.
The top learning outcomes in the final ranking among the total of 16 possible learning outcomes looked as follows:
In the lowest positions we find competencies for managing specific tools, report models and documentation, even supported by ICTs, in order to effectively report their activity and share information about the patient homecare with other professionals.
Formative meeting about technologies supporting distance rehabilitation and monitoring
University of Genova, 15th March 2018
To guarantee the economical sustainability of the sanitary systems by reducing hospitalization and the cost of homecare assistance is one of today’s major national and European challenges. At present graduates in Physiotherapy, together with nurses, OSS (socio-sanitary assistants) and family carers operating either in public or private treatment courses, are the most involved profiles in Liguria and Italy.
The European Project CARESS, funded by the Erasmus+ Programme (PROJECT No. 562634-EPP-1-2015-IT-EPPKA2-SSA), which started in 2015 and is coordinated by Si4Life, with Regione Liguria, Vittorio Emanuele II Ruffini as official partners, and A.Li.Sa. (Regional Sanitary Agency) as a supporting one, has highlighted some formative gaps in the field of homecare assistance, both for the socio-sanitary assistants and for physiotherapists.
The first results of the project reveal transversally identified gaps in the use of next generation technologies supporting remote monitoring and/or home or distance rehabilitation; these topics are mostly in need of an in-depth study, as the operators of the field point out (CARESS, 2016).
The use of ICT to support monitoring and distance rehabilitation is one of the key themes for innovation in the sanitary field, both public and private, which cannot be overlooked when training homecare professionals.
On these grounds the Department for Neurosciences, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics and Sciences has been promoting the I Level University Master in “Home-and Remote Rehabilitation Supported by Technologies”, that will help develop specific competencies in the use of ICT solutions supporting home-and distance rehabilitation, with the cooperation of the Department of Naval Engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications and the Department of Information Technology, Bioengineering, Robotics and System Engineering.
The Master, approved by Regione Liguria, is one of the 21 Masters co-funded by the European Social Fund 2014-2020, axes 3 “Education and Training”.
INNOVATION AND COMPLEMENTARITY
As partner in the European project CARESS, Vittorio Emanuele II Ruffini has implemented the Italian pilot course for the qualification of Socio-Sanitary assistants trained in the field of homecare for old and disabled people, following the actual needs highlighted by the cross analysis carried out during the project.
On this basis, specific competencies about ICT solutions supporting homecare assistance could not be missing in the list of training modules designed to give students the best preparation.
Therefore, students were offered a module on theory containing all the concepts necessary to obtain basic competencies to:
- Understand if the machinery is working correctly; - Be able to move or reposition it if needed;
- Report correctly about problems connected to it.
This context led to the idea of a formative meeting to let students of the Italian pilot see theory applied to real machinery, to get a better understanding of its usefulness and functioning as well as to analyse possible issues directly with developers.
The cooperation with the University of Genova, in particular with the DITEN and DIBRIS Departments, let the OSS see for themselves some of the technologies they will find at the old and disabled’s homes, mostly the ones used by other professionals of the field, like physiotherapists and others. They can also have a better understanding of the specific terminology and be able to widen their interoperability and team-working skills.
For this reason some of the researchers promoting the event were also involved in the training of the students of the I Level Master.
CARESS - A new transational meeting
Helsinki, Finland - 17rd - 19th April 2018
Coming back to Finland for our next meeting...
... ready to work hard!