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    The CareNet project is aimed at developing a critical set of ICT competences in two identified ‘at risk’ target groups: care-workers and older persons. The project is designed to work in a synergistic way to tackle identified problems in the low skilled and under professionalised care-worker sector while at the same time promoting social inclusion and enhancing the quality of life of older people.

    What resonates amongst both groups – care workers and care recipients – is their exposure to the risk of social exclusion as they are both often at the margins of society and likely to be the victim of digital and social divides. ICTs and associated competences have been shown to be a critical component in mitigating these risks of exclusion and helping to support an increased quality of life. The acquisition of digital skills is essential for these actors in the family employment sector where we find over half of all private individual employers aged 60 years old and over, and low-skilled women representing the majority of household employees. In response to these pressing needs the CareNet project will design, develop and pilot learning paths and resources based on cooperative learning between care workers and care recipients to promote improved quality of care and quality of life through the acquisition of care related digital competences. In addition, to answer specific needs, learning modules for individual learning, addressing ICT competences for employability and self-development (care workers) and ICT competences for active ageing (older people) will be created. In this way the project will contribute to: the identified needs for professionalization of care workers; increased access to learning opportunities; personal development of care workers; overcoming the isolation of both care workers and older people by promoting social enterprise, active citizenship and active ageing.

    To carry out a review of the state of the art in Europe of vocational training and adult education opportunities in terms of acquisition of digital competency among old people and care workers, in order to define the background and the learning offers already in place and in order to identify the digital needs expressed by the two target groups in informal settings (WP1).

    To identify key behaviours that require digital competences for care workers and older people in order to define common ICT competences needed by the two target groups (care workers and older people), and specific ICT competences needed for each target group through. This will be done by gathering of information and data directly from care workers, older people and other stakeholders (i.e. associations active in the field). The methodology to carry out this work will be based on a bottom up approach, and will lead to a map of domains of competence detailing a) common ICT competences needed by the target groups; b) specific ICT competences for each target group related to employability and professional development for care workers and active ageing for elders (WP2).

    To design and develop modular learning paths and learning resources to promote the acquisition of the identified ICT competences: both the learning resources and the learning paths will be developed in order to foresee a) common learning modules (task oriented activities), in which care workers and care recipients () will be asked to engage in cooperative learning: these will be addressed to the development of common ICT competences; b) specific learning modules for individual learning, that will address employability and self development ICT competences for care workers and active ageing ICT competences for elders (WP3).

    To develop the technological ground and human support to allow cooperative learning between care workers and care recipients, and peer learning between care workers, in order to foster integration of ICT in care workers and care recipients’ lives. Two main activities will be carried out: 1) establishment of Learning Relay Centres (LRC), as reference points for information, guidance and facilitation to access and benefit from the learning opportunities and peer support for care workers; 2) deployment of an open source networking application, allowing social interaction between the members and addressed to care workers for peer learning and distance learning purposes. The technological development will be based on the ELGG open source social networking engine, where an ePortfolio plug in will be implemented (WP4).

    To pilot and validate learning paths and resources, both common and specific, by involving at least 150 care workers and old people in cooperative and individual learning experiences. Learning will take place a) in LRC centres or other public internet points; b) via computer at the caregivers house; c) via computer at the elders house; d) via mobile devices. Monitoring and recording of the different stages of learning experiences will be put in place, in order to record the data coming from the participants. These information and the data coming from the final evaluation of the piloting will lead to a report highlighting strengths and weaknesses of the developed resources, paths and support, allowing improvement and further development (WP5).

    To ensure that the project’s resources and key findings are widely used by target stakeholders groups and their value is sustained beyond the lifecycle of the project by promoting a strong network of interest in the sector (WP6).

    To undertake a continuous evaluation of the project processes and results, in relation to their quality and the degree of correspondence between these and: a) the project contractual obligations, and b) the stakeholders’ needs (WP7).

    To guarantee the relevance, dissemination, exploitation and subsequent transfer of project results through an integrated valorisation strategy (WP8).

    To ensure that the human and capital resources assigned to the project are effectively managed to achieve the project aims and contractual obligations (WP9).

    With over half of all private individual employers aged 60 and older and with low-skilled women representing the large majority of household employees, we must all be directly concerned by increasing the penetration of ICTs into the family-employment sector.

    Recent studies  have shown that: “not having access, nor the skills, and neither the motivation to use ICT will entail serious disadvantages, the more so as IT savvyness becomes a matter of course in the younger generations. Getting involved with ICT hence is not just a new means of helping the socially disadvantaged bear a fretful situation but an end to overcome insufficient economic chances in itself.”

    IPTS have recently explored the relationship between care-workers, seniors and the deployment of ICTs. Their report details the ability of migrant care assistants to act as mediators or facilitators for the diffusion of ICT-based tools and services among elderly care recipients , and this aspect has become the focus of attention of recent EU funded research projects . It is clear that the care-worker sector represents a critical component in any attempt to drive forward the agenda of improving the quality of life for the elderly.

    The acquisition of digital skills is therefore now essential for all actors of the family employment sector:

    Older people – to promote their social inclusion and allow them to age with dignity at home. The use of ICTs can improve quality of life, resulting in empowerment and promoting a greater participation in society. Recent research has shown that a large segment of older people in Europe can be encouraged to use online services, and these can radically improve their quality of life by supporting independent living ;

    Low skilled workers – to encourage access to jobs and maintain their employment via improved vocational training. A skilled care-worker sector is critical to driving forward the agenda of improving the quality of life for the elderly. At present, care workers are a fragile and underskilled workforce. Although the number of people employed in this sector is increasing, domestic work is still the most insecure, underpaid and least protected form of employment. The ILO and EU (EECS) have pointed out the need to professionalise the role of domestic workers, demanding action by member states in the area of labour legislation covering employment conditions, health, security, qualification and training. The use of ICTs can contribute to the increased professionalisation of the care-working sector through access to skills and accreditation in ICTs for improving quality of life for care recipients. Enhancement in personal uses of ICT allow for mobility and access to learning and professional opportunities including: peer support in communities of practice and sectoral social networks; train the trainer activity; resulting in enhancement of the social and cultural capital of individual workers;

    Family employers and employees – in order to overcome the inherent atomicity of these activities, by developing a feeling of belonging to a community.

    Importantly, the increased penetration in the use of ICTs within these target groups will help achieve the wider socio-economic inclusion objectives that include innovations that support elderly people in enhancing their quality of life, autonomy and safety .

    For this reason, the project seeks to design, develop and pilot learning paths and resources based on cooperative learning between care workers and care recipients to promote improved quality of care and quality of life through the acquisition of care related digital competences. In addition, to answer specific needs, learning modules for individual learning, addressing employability and self-development of ICT competences for care workers and active ageing ICT competences for elders, will be provided and piloted. The project will contribute to: professionalization; increased access to learning opportunities; personal development of care workers; overcoming the isolation of care workers and elders by promoting active citizenship and active ageing.

    Funded under the Lifelong Learning Programme / Development of innovative ICT-based content, services, pedagogies and practice for Lifelong Learning / KA3 Multilateral projects

    Project Nr 5192786-LLP-2011-FR-KA3-KA3MP / CareNET

    Project duration: 01/2012 to 01/2014

    Coordinator

    IPERIA l’Institut

    60 avenue de Quakenbrück

    BP 136

    61004 Alençon

    Internet site address: www.iperia.eu

    Contractor

    Institut FEPEM de l’Emploi Familial

    Avenue Quakenbrück, 60 Alençon 61000, FR Phone: +33 (0)2.33.82.08.92 Fax: +33 (0)2.33.26.42.51

    Email: Mrs Marie-Béatrice Levaux mb.levaux@institut-fepem.fr

    Internet site address: www.iperia.eu