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News How can we care for an ageing population?

Experts from across Europe have joined forces to help plug the growing skills gap in the elderly care sector.

Partners at the project launch
Image: Partners at the project launch

Europe is getting older: by 2080, a third of the population will be over 65. This means that there is a rapidly-increasing need for skilled caregivers.

Dr Peter Kevern, Associate Professor in Values in Care

Dr Peter Kevern, Associate Professor in Values in Care at Staffordshire University, explained: “Europe is getting older: by 2080, a third of the population will be over 65. This means that there is a rapidly-increasing need for skilled caregivers who can support their own ageing family members as well as provide a professional workforce for the growing private sector.”

The Eldicare Project is a "Sector Skills Alliance" funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus+Programme. It brings together 12 partners from 5 Countries - Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, UK - to identify the skills that carers of elderly people are going to need for the future, and to develop innovative approaches to training them.

Peter said: “Across the whole of Europe we'e got an ageing population and in different countries that is being solved in different ways. In Switzerland, they have 'au pairs' for older people who provide live-in care, then in other parts of Europe we have got people migrating to work as carers.”

“The project is looking at what skills people actually need and if we can offer a training programme by distance learning. This would provide a recognised accreditation for carers - a skills passport to work in different countries.”

The team from the School of Health and Social Care at Staffordshire University, led by Dr Peter Kevern and Dr Edward Tolhurst, will take responsibility for the initial research phase of the project.

This will involve a multi-method study of literature, expert interviews, focus groups and service-user questionnaires to build up a picture of how informal elderly social care is delivered across Europe; the nature of the workforce; and their training needs.

For the remainder of the project, the University's contribution will be to help develop, test and refine the curricula and materials to be produced.

At the kick-off meeting, held in Athens this month (pictured), the partners set the project in motion detailing the timeline and scope of technical activities as well as defining the management and administrative structure for project implementation.

“The project aims to offer a pathway out of the grey market for atypical and undeclared elderly care givers through education and training in ICT and health applications, modernizing the way elderly care is delivered."

Peter added: “We hope this will be a high impact project that can really make a difference to people's lives.”

The Eldicare Project runs for two years, ending in October 2020. Projects partners are:

  • Universidad de Malaga (Spain) 
  • IHF (Belgium – a dissemination organisation) 
  • EAHSA (Belgium – a Europe-wide association of care providers). 
  • AKMI (Greece education) 
  • Assistel (Spain – care delivery) 
  • Staffordshire University (UK) 
  • KMOP (Greece – education ) 
  • ACQUIN (Germany – care network ) 
  • SGTO (Greece - education ) 
  • AMC (Greece – market research) 
  • BQS (Germany – certifications ) 
  • Age Concern (UK – care delivery)

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