– Inclusion is essential when creating new tools
Estimates suggest that as much as 80 per cent of all long-term care in Europe is provided by informal carers. Countries with large-scale publicly funded care and services are increasingly shifting towards family or social responsibility, as well as promoting informal care.
“This transition is not without risk. It may cause increasing inequality in regards to health care, problems with combining work and care, or costs in relation to sick leave”, says Maud Diemer, advisor at CMO STAMM, a partner in the In For Care project.
Diemer points out that integrating professional and informal care has proven to be difficult. Not least because of the way health care has been institutionalized in the past.
The paper Informal care and volunteering assistance in Europe; a comparison between countries in the North Sea region is presented at the 4th Transforming Care Conference in Copenhagen on the 24-26 June 2019.
Impacts the quality of life
“The increasing demand for informal care puts greater pressure on the informal carers themselves. Spending over 20 hours a week on care decreases income among carers in comparison to non-carers”, Diemer says.
She adds that the effects of using one’s free time to care for another person on the quality of life is something all countries should take into account. Employers should be made aware of the support they can provide to employees in this position.
The Interreg North Sea Region-funded project In For Care was launced in early 2017 to address challenges in regards to informal carers. The project’s aim is to improve voluntary work processes and informal care in social service delivery.
The project’s core method – the quadruple helix approach – is used to enable user-driven innovation in services, implementing new technology and demonstrating valuable matchmaking between informal and formal networks.
“The focus has been on understanding the user’s needs. Building on an innovative solution with quadruple helix stakeholders was useful for broadening our perspectives. It also motivated stakeholders to participate in developing ideas”, says Diemer.
She adds that to really create a working, innovative solution, you need to put it into practice.
“Involving stakeholders in the test, engaging them to cooperate and to invest time in the service innovation requires a thorough communication effort. It is important to pay attention to involving organisations. Networks which function as a bridge between public authorities and local informal carers are crucial for getting information across”, says Diemer.
What stands out from all the different tools and initiatives in In For Care is that they introduce the option of connecting to a formal healthcare network closer to the informal carer than it has been before.
In the case of young informal carers, it is important to note that these children do not call themselves informal caregivers, and do not provide care in a manner comparable to adults.
“They grow up with other worries and responsibilities than their peers. What they need most is leisure time for themselves and understanding from their teachers and friends”, says Diemer.
Maud Diemer, CMO STAMM.