MobileThe use of mobile phone may pose problems for the elderly, but also can, significantly, improve their quality of life. Therefore “Fundación Alzheimer España” conducted a study that provides some indications that may help to choose the most suitable mobile phone for seniors. The mobile phone, according to their study, offers important advantages for the elderly such as:

  • The ability to automatically call someone if they have a problem.
  • The safety that the mobile transmits to them when they are moving alone.
  • The feeling of being safe if they are alone.

Given that they may have impaired vision it is very useful if the size of the phone is “large” in order to grasp it easily, with bright colours, but not flashy, that can be easily located and visible. A good example of this kind of mobile phone could be a white casing, with black buttons and white numbers. The screen should have high contrast combining white and black with large text size. Is desirable the buttons to be large and spaced and with some relief to differentiate better.

Since older people, sometimes, have difficulties to hear properly it should be possible to adjust the volume of incoming calls and the phone’s handset to their needs. The terminal must support the headset, so that the sound is not fitted.

It is interesting to be able to remove or block Internet services (video calls, etc) if the senior does not want to use, in order to avoid misleading. An excessive number of applications, such as games or graphics, may cause rejection of the person who may consider working with the phone too complicated and unattractive. Other applications could be useful like calendars, camera or  access to theirIt is also advisable devices with a battery that lasts longer than usual and with the possibility of incorporating a loudspeaker favourite newspapers.

Author: Jana Arribas Fontaneda

Social media offer workers new environments to exchange, get informed and connected: professional networks. Each professional network is characterized by its organisation and the services proposed to its members. Although several types of professional network appeared online all are fostering the professionalisation of workers.

Online professional networks may gather together workers from a particular sector and a specific work. Workers may express their needs, their issues and their challenges thanks to a private environment gathering peers. In this way they share a professional interest with the members of the network unlike less exclusive social networks.

Besides the professional network is a way to promote the careers and the businesses of its members through blogs or personal pages. They air not only their issues but also their results and successes. Businessmen and women may advertise their enterprises and workers may promote their curriculum vitae. In this way the network become a tool to reach customers and employers.

Another service of the professional network is peer recognition. The network further facilitates the exchanges of contacts and the recommendations between members. Thanks to your membership your contacts may also increase the value of your e-Portfolio by adding comments or validating your competences.

The professional network could also become an environment to promote vocational training. For instance in Cornwall the network for women entrepreneurs Leading women UK  organise free training workshops for their members on a monthly basis. The network target topics to support the working life of their members and made the booking of workshops available online.

The professional network is not necessarily based on virtual connections. For instance the French professional network Work’n’meet suggest its members meeting during a lunch. The creators of the website identify the lunch as the traditional moment to negotiate future professional contracts. They thus recall the first function of a professional network: the employment.

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Author: Laure Lhermet

The Sus-IT project ran from 2009 until 2012 with the aim of helping older people to use information technologies for a better and more independent future. During the life of the project, the barriers to the sustained and effective use of ICTs by older people were investigated and  a range of solutions that combined both technology and social context were explored. In brief the project was able to:

  • Produce a conceptual model of the risks to sustaining digital engagement for older people;
  • Develop an innovative suite of tools, methods and guidance for working with older people in research and design of ICT-based products and services;
  • Formulate an ‘adaptivity framework’ to develop prototype software that helps to address problems encountered by people experiencing age-related changes in vision, dexterity and;
  • Produce a user-generated strategy for provision of sustainable, community-based ICT learning and support for older people.

Arguably one of the most engaging outputs has been the production of a design catalogue of 40 product concepts aimed at the ICT industry to stimulate new product development for the older market. These 40 design concepts were generated during four group ‘sandpit’ session strands, each carried out in close collaboration with older people. They covered the areas of: A custom computer for older people; Supporting memory and identity in later life; Combating social isolation; iPad apps for older people. The concepts show an intriguing mix of familiar objects with more advanced technological functions. In one such design, an everyday telephone becomes a ‘Photo phone’. Here, the standard functionalities of a telephone are preserved and augmented by the ability of the user to add electronic photos and then also share them with a caller. The idea behind this concept was stimulated by a desire to find social technical solutions to combating isolation and loneliness.

What further strengthens this approach is the nature of the methodology. By embarking on a process of participatory co-design the concepts encapsulate the authentic voices of the older people who are, after all, the intended end-users of these potential prototypes. This is a compelling message to send to companies building ICT products and also an empowering experience as older people become co-designers of their own tools and services.

Frolich, D., Lim, C., Woods, S. and Amr,  A. (2012). What older people want: A catalogue of co-designed ICT concepts. University of Surrey: UK.

Authors: Steven Warburton

How about having care workers use ICT tools to enhance their employability? It sounds like a great opportunity to combat social exclusion and focus on professional development.

The creation of an e-portfolio would add value to their professionalism by underlining and making visible evidence of their knowledge, experience and skills. It is widely known that the sector of social and care workers is often not treated with deserved acknowledgement, because of the large number unskilled employees. The question we ask here is: could the creation of an ePorfolio be a perfect motivation for them to seek opportunities for educational and professional enhancement? In broad sectoral terms, it would be a great benefit for care workers in order to abolish some the perceived issues surrounding professionalism in the social care work arena.

An e-portfolio is a portable, electronic database, where the user collects and organises text, audio, graphic and video files that provide evidence of their knowledge, skills and training. It is basically a personalised space on the web, easily accessible and sharable, for example with future employers.

There are several benefits that stem from the development of an e-portfolio. It enables a care worker to store and organise their learning and assessment evidence and can significantly enhance their chances of getting a job in the Health & Social Care or Nursing sectors. What is important about an e-portfolio is to use it effectively in order to promote your professionalism. For example, a care worker could represent excerpts from paid experience and jobs , any voluntary work relevant to the care and social sector such as telephone councelling or voluntary work in a care home. It is also good idea to include any memberships to professional organisations and extra curricullar activities, which can give a unique insight into the carer’s personality. In order to give ad value, recommendations from others – both colleagues and employers – can be included. It is especially relevant for care workers that an e-portfolio represents them as an individual with a supportive, considerate and respectful character, regardless of the background.

One of the most well-known applications for electronic portfolio is Mahara, which is an open source system with a range of features and the added advantage that it links closely with the popular virtual learning environment Moodle. Other systems include Folio for me, a free e-portfolio, and PebblePad, which provides a learning space as well portfolio area. Although not classified as an ePortfolio tool the social media site LinkedIn could also be considered as an effective tool for building one’s professional identity through networking and connecting with professionals in the field.

Care workers deserve to upgrade their professional status and with digital tools readily now available the e-portfolio represents the perfect platform.

Further reading:
JISC report 2012. ePortfolios – an overview. Online at

Authors: Theofili Smprini

” I did all the activities but I met some limits with my mother who took part to answer the tests (for older people), to play memory games. Now she can use the “Next” and “?” keys by herself. It is maybe nothing for some persons, but it is a huge step for her. She thought that she was too stupid to use the tablet, now she enjoys it… at her level but it matters. And she also showed the tablet to her 84 years old neighbour who immediately enjoyed and understand it (he never used a computer before) and after few hours he decided to buy a table. He came back 2 days after and asked for more information. We went online and watched his favorite singers, we tested Skype, played, googlemapped, I guess that he will come back soon…”, Mrs C.

European Commission’s Joint Research Centre Institute for Prospective Technological Studies has just published its long awaited DIGCOMP: A Framework for Developing and Understanding Digital Competence in Europe.

With the 2006 European Recommendation on Key Competences, Digital Competence has been acknowledged as one of the 8 key competences for Lifelong Learning by the  European Union. Digital Competence can be broadly defined as the confident, critical and  creative use of ICT to achieve goals related to work, employability, learning, leisure, inclusion and/or participation in society. Digital competence is a transversal key  competence which, as such, enables us to acquire other key competences (e.g.  language, mathematics, learning to learn, cultural awareness). It is related to many of the 21st Century skills which should be acquired by all citizens, to ensure their active participation in society and the economy.
The project, which was carried out between January 2011 and December 2012, had the following objectives:

  • To identify the key components of Digital Competence in terms of the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to be digitally competent;
  • To develop Digital Competence descriptors that will feed a conceptual framework and/or guidelines that can be validated at European level, taking into account relevant frameworkscurrently available;
  • To propose a roadmap for the possible use and revision of a Digital Competence framework and descriptors of Digital Competences for all levels of learners.

Read the full report by download:

In careNET, we focus on social inclusion through the development of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) competences for care recipients above the age of 65 years in long term domiciliary care and  care workers. Care workers’ care for elderly people goes beyond helping with cleaning, cooking and other daily tasks. Care workers need their vocational competences to be developed, competences in relation to enabling care recipients use ICT.

ICTs and 65+ people in care

In the context of the everyday life in domiciliary care, careNET has explored in seven partner countries if and how care workers support the elderly as care recipients in handling their lives with the use of ICTs. In the care services provided for elderly people, the focus could be on care workers help with and teach the use ICTs and Internet. The care recipients can be empowered by the care workers through being able to use ICT in their everyday lives. By supporting the care recipients to use ICT, the care workers support the care recipients in becoming more independent and the care workers can perform their care work with greater proficiency.

Care workers support in using ICT as well

In its first phase, the careNET project partners identified that care recipients can get technical assistance from care workers with in learning to use a digital device, such as smartphones, tablets or laptops, to connect and install an internet connection and ensure that applications and programs are updated and are secure to use. By helping the care recipients to use ICT and Internet, to use web shops for ordering products related to their daily life and care, patients’ associations’ web pages for information and help for the care recipients or relatives, online booking for appointments at the physician and ordering prescriptions, and to book trips and travels, the care workers empowers the care recipients and enhance their quality of life.

ICTs and security

Many elderly people are afraid of using the Internet for personal affairs such as banking. Care workers can help them to use online banking that makes the handling of bank affairs easier and accessible for a care recipient dependent on domiciliary care. Elderly people in long term domiciliary care seldom use mobile phones. To avoid isolation and to connect with family and friends outside the care recipients’ homes, care workers can teach their clients to use mobile phones not only for calls but also for sending and receiving text messages and MMS’ and for other tasks as well.

Care workers care for people over 65 in need. Supporting them in using ICTs could bring a new dimension in their care work.

Author: Annette Dalsgaard Vilain

In France IPERIA implement relays to insure the training, the peer learning and the networking of care workers. In 2013 IPERIA will put in place relays of care workers in 33 territories. On 4th July 2013, the facilitators of the relays gathered together during “the day of facilitators”. The relays aim to become ‘testing ground’ of innovations. The careNET pilot is part of the first innovation which will be tested in the framework of the relays. In this way the careNET project was introduced during this event. The facilitators showed themselves to be very interested by the project and its implementation.

Mobile technologies have been proved as a useful tool in the hands of care workers and care recipients since they are used in a variety of tasks related to health care issues. Mobile devices can especially improve effectively the professional life of care workers and make data more accessible.

A recent survey of health care professionals and administrators has shown that 60% have used their tablet at work for at least one year, 28% for two years and 7% for three years. It is also notable that many hospitals and clinics are purchasing tablets for their workers. The question is how care workers use tablets in their work? Mobile devices have lots of advantages which the most important is the access to medical records and information. This function keeps care workers informed of their patients’ clinical condition. Furthermore, they could use a tablet for scheduling appointments, communicating with doctors or coworkers and managing drug prescription. In this way care workers would be more focused on patient care than on administrative duties. In Greece tablets would enable the care workers who mostly do not have certified digital competences to use technology in an easier and more convenient way: they would increase their productivity and also care patients more effectively.

However should a tablet used for health care possess specific features? Tablets are usually designed for home users and therefore lacked in functionalities for health professionals. The CyberNet company designs computers for unique environment and computing needs. Within research in health care industry CyberNET designed the CyberMed T10 tablet for employees in the health care sector. It is loaded with all the features that a health care professional needs including antimicrobial coating and hygienic aluminum housings. Besides its touch screen can be used with medical gloves. It is also easy to carry due to its light weight and its handle though the most important feature remains the equipment of systems used in medical environments facilitating the work of care workers and doctors.

So what better for care workers to benefit of mobile technology by using medical grade tablets? In this way their job becomes easier and more convenient enabling secure access anywhere!


Author: Theofili Smprini