EDUCARE PROJECT: AN INNOVATIVE TRAINING PROGRAM FOR THE ELDERLY CARER
The rise of the elderly population is producing important changes in terms of social, cultural, and economical issues. In the specific case of health and social services in Europe, the changes in the distribution of the population could have a great impact in these services as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2002) and predicted by the American Society of Gerontology (Merck Institute of Aging & Health, 2004). In fact, ageing is one of the main five problems in the European Union identified by the METRIS report in 2009 (European Commission, 2009). The concept of "active ageing“, proposed by WHO, is defined as the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to improve the quality of life as people age (WHO, 2002).
Several programs, experiences, policies, and initiatives have been implemented in the active ageing field to promote personal autonomy for the elderly (e.g., Herrera, Muñoz, Martín & Cid, 2011). The use of the Information and Communication Technologies can provide several advantages; in fact, there are already many works in this field such as “Age Invaders” (Khoo, Cheok, Nguyen & Pan, 2008) or the “Butler System” (Botella, et al., 2009, Etchemendy et al., 2011, Baños et al., 2012).
The European Consortium called EDU.CARE (Education for Care) emerged to research in this field, funded with support from the Lifelong Learning Program (527360-LLP-2012-IT-GRUNDTVIG-GMP) of the European Commission. The Consortium is formed by a group of public and private organizations in Italy, Romania, Poland, and Spain, with the aim of developing a Training Program for trainers and carers to enhance the active ageing in the elderly population (Quero, Pérez-Ara, Botella & Baños, 2013).
This paper will describe the EDUCARE training program and the subsequent procedure that evaluates the efficacy and satisfaction with the program. In the specific case of Spain, the sample will consist of trainers who are studying different Master degrees and PhD programs and around 20-30 carers. According to the guidelines of the project, the trainers have to transfer their achieved knowledge and support the carers assigned to them. The training program is composed of two training phases.
The first phase includes 5 lectures of 6 hours each one.
The topics of these units are:
1) Basic skills in Anthropology and Gerontology;
2) Basic skills in Psychology;
3) Helping Relationship Skills;
4) Coaching Skills;
5) Skills in the Web Platform.
The second phase named "Project Work" will last for three months and will consist of transferring the learned training caregivers assigned (1 or 2 caregivers for each trainer). At the same time, during all the process, participants will have access to a virtual classroom based on 2.0. where they will be able to view the materials of the lectures, as well as use the different tools provided by the virtual classroom (forum, chat, wiki, real time multimedia content, self-assessment questionnaires, exercises, etc.). Learning outcomes and satisfaction issues will be assessed.
Innovation in learning practices is an important expected outcome of the EDU.CARE project. As a result of the designed training program, trainers and carers involved in the trial could transfer the skills learned to the elderly services in order to offer a better support to the elderly people according to their needs with the aim to increase their quality of life from an active ageing perspective.