In For Care

Making a difference on informal care and voluntary assistance

13 December 2019 - Published by Ragni Leifson
A digital tool to make volunteering easier; increasing social cohesion on the continent; encouraging young volunteers – for three years In For Care has been putting informal care and voluntary assistance on the agenda in the North Sea region.

In November 2019 the In For Care project held its final conference in Kristiansand, Norway. Since 2017, we have been working with informal care and voluntary assistance in the six partner countries.

In Europe, 80% of all care is provided by informal carers – i.e. people providing usually unpaid care to someone with a chronic disease, disability or any other long-lasting health or care need, outside of a professional or formal framework. Download our report on the state of informal care and voluntary assistance in Europe (PDF).

In the video below, you can see a four-minute recap of what we have achieved.

You can also check out the full playlist of our ten partners talking about what difference In For Care has made for them – from Sweden, Norway, Scotland, Belgium, The Netherlands and Denmark.

A digital tool for volunteers

In Norway, one of the key results of In For Care has been the testing and deployment of a digital tool for managing volunteers.

“It is great to have found a tool that suits us. Now we can register volunteers according to interests, and it is easy to put relatives, contacts, and volunteers in touch. And it is good to know that everything has been done correctly according to privacy protection,” says leader of the volunteer centre in Vennesla, Jorunn Sagen Olsen.

The tool, called FRIDA, is based on an extensive mapping of user needs and is being tested in several of the partner countries.

Quadruple helix innovations

When creating an innovation, there is often a lack of involvement of the citizens and end-users. In For Care has been working with quadruple helix, an innovation and collaboration model with a citizen/end user perspective. It is useful in an innovation process where the citizens needs are central, as for example in health care and public e-services.

If you are interested in learning more, you can download our Quadruple Helix Guide for innovations (pdf).

You can also download our service design manual to introduce innovation in public service delivery.

Involving students and youths

Among the partners in the project are two univiersities and one community college. They have all included their students in the project’s work. At Abertay University students from Scotland, Norway and Denmark met for a co-creation session with the Fife Society for the blind.

Both UC Syd in Denmark and the University of Agder in Norway has arranged volunteer exhibitions for their students. UC Syd has in addition developed a communication tool to make conversations with informal caregivers easier – as well as an e-learning tool for volunteers. Region Kristiansand are also using VR tools for training volunteers.

Young people are also involved in Värmland, where young volunteers are teaching the old about digital life.

Three of the projects in Denmark will continue even after In For Care is finished.

Helping young carers

In the Netherlands, around 3,5 million people provide care for a family member. That does not include a significant number of young people under 18 who grow up with a family member who is chronically ill, who has a disability or an addiction. These young carers experience more worries than their peers, and in many cases they are shouldering the responsibilities alone.

The In For Care partner CMO STAMM is working especially with these young carers, and this has also been a topic at the partner visit to Drenthe.

The Province of Drenthe has also made a number of short film spots as an awareness-raising campaign about working caregivers – you can see one of them here.

A similar campaign in Värmland, Sweden has actually gained national attention for informal carers and the help they are not always getting.

Social cohesion

In Belgium, the focus has been on social cohesion. In the city of Aalst, a travelling café lets informal carers meet others in the same situation for learning and socializing.

In Turnhout, quite novel steps have been taken to strengthen informal care and voluntary assistance between immigrants and the elderly native population.

The work continues

At the end of 2019 the project In For Care is over, but needless to say the work for informal care and voluntary assistance is continuing in all the regions around the North Sea.

We believe that many of the initiatives that have been started as part of In For Care will live on in the future, and provide a better life for European informal carers and volunteers.