Author Archives: Barbara Lazar

web3-200pxl„The ICT and e-Skills for Social Care Conference“ was organised by the careNET project in the Brussels Press Club on 26 February 2014. The recording of the entire conference including presentations talks and discussions are available here. Presentations and short introductions will be also available soon. The event brought together social care professionals with policy-makers striving for responsive, competence-based and needs-oriented care systems face to face and online.

web1-200pxlThe Conference was streamed online via Adobe Connect to provide open and free access. The programme opened with keynote speakers elaborating on the role of (ICT) skills and competences in social care. Keynote speakers included Mme Marie-Béatrice Levaux, President of the European Federation for Family Employment (EFFE), and Stephanie Carretero, Scientific officer at Institute for Prospective Technological Studies- Joint Research Centre, European Commission who talked about the policy issues and research perspective of technology in European social care. Thanks to the pivotal questions and current challenges in the field addressed in their talks, valuable and high quality discussions evolved around the situation of informal carers with migrant background and the need for stronger involvement of older people in European initiatives and research. We were thrilled to have the view of respected organizations of the field and stakeholders of the project. Nena Georgantzi, (AGE Platform Europe) gave insight into ICT acceptance from the perspective of older persons, while Areti Efthymiou (EUROCARERS) talked about informal carers’ needs and the project InnovAGE as a support tool.

Web2-200pxlParticipants learned about the outcomes of the careNET project as well as European research related to the effect of technology-based services in care at home. Relevant similar initiatives in various countries (UPCARING project, INNOVAGE, DISCOVER4U) have been presented, as well as interdisciplinary discussions evolved around digital skill development of social workers for young people.

More information

Background information

Web4-200pxlIn the careNET project (co-funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission), 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. 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.

In the family employment sector 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 pressing needs in the field, the careNET project has identified key digital competences to support inclusion of care-workers in a new world of professionalisation and led on-the-job experiments with household carers in partnership with older people. As the project comes to its end, the partners share their experiences and results to start a dialogue among similar initiatives and organisations active in the field.

Read more:  careNET on Facebook | Newsletters & articles

In the last phase of the careNET pilots, launched in November 2013 the piloting partners, FBIS and IPERIA organised two validation seminars to introduce the project and the pilots to thank the local and national partners and to discuss the first outcomes.

Spanish-validation-seminar-250pxlOn 21th February 2014 in Burgos (Spain), FBIS presented the careNET project and the Spanish pilot to the local stakeholders and the media. To improve further the quality of life of older people and the professionalisation of care workers in Spain, FBIS encouraged the participants to access the tools of the Virtual Learning Environment and to implement the careNET training.

The stakeholders involved took part on behalf of medical institutions, i.e. Hospital Universitario de Burgos, Hospital San Juan de Dios and also in the organisations committed in social care, i.e. CUIDAMOS, in social voluntary service, i.e. Fundacion Cauce and in digital education, i.e. AULA_SMART.

Advocating for the upscaling of the careNET pilot, FBIS expounded then in detail the project to the press. Several journalists from different media took part in the event. The radio channels Onda CERO and Cadena SER joined the conference with the television channels Canal 8 and Canal Castilla y León and the newspaper Diario de Burgos.

Here is a radio interview with Jana Arribas Fontaneda, Project Manager of the careNET Spanish pilot:

French-validation-seminar-250pxlOn 10th February 2014 in Paris (France), IPERIA gathered together several stakeholders in the framework of the French validation seminar and invited Juliette Boulanger as expert in home care and independent living markets. Mrs Boulanger presented her analysis of the careNET pilot on the basis of the acceptability factors of the digital use by older people at different levels. At the individual level, the project considered the usefulness of the technology-based care, the simplicity of the use of ICT and the motivation of the participants. At the social level, the project empowered the care workers as learning mediators of ICT skills towards older people. At the organisational level, it committed to sustainable action.

The social partners, i.e. the CFTC, the FEPEM, the CFD and the CGT, with members of the General Delegation for Employment and Vocational Training (DGEFP) and of social welfare group for family employment IRCEM confirmed jointly the relevance of the careNET innovation to foster the professionalisation of care workers and to satisfy the needs of older people. The participants suggested inserting digital training to the in-service training of care workers and linking the project outcomes to the industrial sector in order to further develop the experimentation. They supported the Call for an Open Pilot, an invitation to access the piloting deliverables and to implement the careNET pilot in Europe.

The final evaluation of the careNET pilots will be published on the project website in April.

The careNET Consortium, coordinated by IPERIA, consisting of eight European partners is inviting organisations outside the Consortium and potentially from other countries to join an Open Pilot experience. It is an open and free possibility for home care service providers or other organisations dealing with home care workers or older people as receivers of home care to take part in a pilot exercise.

The careNET Consortium is implementing the project entitled “Building ICT competencies in the long-term care sector to enhance quality of life for older people and those at risk of exclusion” with the support of the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme. The careNET project is aimed at developing a critical set of ICT competences in 2 identified ‘at-risk’ target groups: care-workers and older persons.

Organisations joining the pilot will receive full access to the key outputs of the project including the map of domains of competences, learning path and learning resources, and other tools of the Virtual Learning Environment. Pilot organisations will also receive methodological support from the Consortium and will be invited to present their pilot experience at the careNET final conference (‘ICT and e-Skills for Social Care’) taking place in February 2014 in Brussels.

A Handbook of Piloting Procedures is available to provide practical guidance to the piloting exercise that can be used by staff and organisations involved in the open pilot and their local partners. The Handbook introduces the pilot in the context of the project, describes the original national piloting scenarios (France and Spain), and presents in details the three phases of the pilot: pre-pilot, pilot and post-pilot activities. It explains for each phase the range of activities, the administrative procedures and the required templates.

If your organisation is interested in joining the Open Pilot experience, please contact Laure Lhermet project officer at IPERIA or Peter Palvolgyi responsible for exploitation activities at Telecentre-Europe. For more information about the careNET project, the implementing partners and the ongoing pilot experience in France and Spain, please visit our website or follow us on Facebook.

For more information please visit the whole Call.

Several projects are aiming to improve the care of older people involving both carers and older people. However in projects like ACTION or DISCOVER the training is solely dedicated to carers considered as an intermediary in the development of competences. The ACTION  project provides carers information about ICT services, especially using videophones with older people and caregivers. In the DISCOVER  project carers learn to use mobile devices and digital technologies to become mentors of their care recipients.

The successful learning of digital skills is based on the continuity of trustful relationships between care workers and care recipients which constitutes a fertile ground to acquire new skills. Cooperative learning between older people and care workers enriches daily life through sharing ideas news and problems thus through this inter-generational activity participants develop social relationships. It enlarges the world of each member of the process and leads to discover a third world: the digital one.

The cooperative learning process in social care needs to be appropriately prepared. The organisation that organises this learning process should start with a specific study of needs and wishes of the participants. The thesis “Supporting family caregivers through educational training and information services from an empowerment perspective” highlights indeed the necessary integration of the needs of the carers in the design and development of a specific training and recommends their early involvement in this process. In this way the organisers will insure efficient meaningful and enjoyable participation of the carers and their clients in the learning process.

The concept of cooperative training invites us to trust and train carers considering the needs of each member of their successful relationship with older people.


  • Hanson E., Magnusson L. (2005). Supporting frail older people and their family carers at home using information and communication technology: cost analysis. 51(6):645-57.
  • Moressi M. (2010) Supporting family caregivers through educational training and information services from an empowerment perspective: A literature review.

Author: Laure Lhermet

The pilots of the careNET project started in November 2013. They implemented and validated the careNET learning architecture, pathways and resources previously produced. The Spanish and French partners carried out trainings through a specific ICT tool, a digital tablet, involving 120 care workers and care recipients. During these trainings the participants used a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) consisting of three tools: a social network, a learning platform and a competency wiki. Through the VLE and the related “Learning Relay Centers” provided by the project partners, the trainees learn in an innovative surrounding.

In Spain, the pilot takes place in the city of Burgos. There are 29 carers involved, all women, most of them Latin American immigrants and their respective clients. The pilot began on 12th November 2013 and ended on 19th December. About 77% of participants are aged between 40 and 60 years and almost all care recipients are above 85. Most of the participants, especially those who are between 50 and 60 years old, i.e. 57% of them, have had very little contact with new technologies. This makes the learning curve very slow and fast-tracks the face-to- face sessions. The VLE is complicated to use in short deadlines for people with such a time-consuming job as elderly care. However they are enthusiastic for learning and show strong commitment and a growing curiosity to find daily and professional situations where their newly learned skills are useful. The most appreciated newly acquired competences are related to communication and information. These allow them to maintain or recover contact with their families abroad. This enthusiasm, related to new ways of communications, is shared by the people receiving care.

In France, IPERIA implements the pilot in 4 territories since 18th November 2013 and will end the process in February. The experiment involves 31 care workers and their care recipients constituting mainly women. The care workers are aged between 50 and 59 years and have various levels of digital skill proficiency. At this stage of the pilot, we observe the needs for collective face-to-face sessions dedicated to the fundamental use of the tablet and internet and to the resolution of technical problems. The French care workers are also strongly committed to the training using every tool of the VLE and putting a lot of pressure on them in order to succeed in helping their care recipients to develop digital skills. Some first testimonials highlight the benefits of learning to use digital tools on the area of social life, leisure and professional representation of French care workers. In the next weeks the care workers will begin to learn with older people becoming thus the mediator of their daily digital skills.

In the post-pilot phase we evaluate the results of the pilots and organize validation seminars in Spain and France. We will soon report the final results on the careNET website.

video-callA great number of elderly people are marked by loneliness, mainly because of their children living in distant places. In this case, telephone has always been a consolation for them in order to communicate directly with their beloving ones. The advancement of digital technologies has brought a new dimension in the communication of the seniors, since they can combine voice and video calls with digital tools that can be easily used by them.

Even thought that sounds as a magnificent idea for older people to keep in touch with their family and friends, the problem is that most of them are unfamiliar with new technologies and are afraid of using them. Furthermore, many of the senior houses or hospitals are lacking an internet access, which is necessary for making a voice and video call. Setting up a video call station for the elderly is very easy and requires a computer and a webcamera, either a tablet or a smartphone, and an internet connection. Skype or Google Hangout are nice and very easy digital tools to use, combining voice and video calls. In the market there are a lot of free applications that support voice and video calls.

But why seniors need the video to contact with their family? Apart from a more direct way of communication, video is considered as an extremely useful application especially for elderly that face hearing problems. Video calls benefit, as they can utilize the facial expressions and body language – lost in a basic phone call – to enhance communication. For instance reading lips can help improve understanding among seniors, when they can’t hear well.

In voice and video calls, seniors can watch their grandchildren to snuff off the candles in the birthday cake, sing christmas carols with all the family, and generally share a special moment with loved ones. Video calls also give the chance for communication and peer learning among the elderly, who have the opportunity to exercise their digital skills and feel active.

In conclusion, technology should be considered as a helpmate rather than as an enemy for seniors. Particularly, the voice and video applications is the easiest way to keep the elderly updated and activated in digital world.

Author: Theofili Smprini

In a world where information and communications technology (ICT), and in particular the internet, are transforming the way we communicate, learn and work, thousands of independent sector social care services for adults in England – many of them small, private or voluntary sector organisations – do not have access to high-quality internet or digital technology. This means their users and staff are at a disadvantage in terms of access to training and development, knowledge gathering and full participation in the support networks available online. In 2010, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) commissioned  the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) to undertake a study into the impact of the Get Connected Investment Project. It was established by the Department of Health aimed to enable care providers to improve access for service users, carers, visitors and staff to ICT so they can use the power of the internet to communicate, learn and train.

The evaluation included two rounds of surveys, conducted online, with emails being sent to the main contacts. These were mainly managers or owner/managers, but in some cases were individuals in roles such as activities co-ordinators or administrators. In addition, these lead contacts were asked to forward emails containing survey links to their staff and, where they felt it appropriate, to their service users. The evaluation also included in-depth research at twenty case study sites, each of which was contacted twice by members of the evaluation team, with each round of interviews taking place following each of the two survey rounds. To read more on the survey, please, visit NIACE’s website.

One of the good practices providers presented is Social Care Institute of Excellence with a vast collection of easily understandable good practices that are transferable sustainable and accessible. Such a practice is ‘Carer Aware: Online training course and information resource for carers’, an e-learning course designed to meet the needs of carers. Dudley MBC has designated local libraries as Carer information points and developed free online training for staff and carers. Dudley consulted with carers and staff to develop these resources which have widespread approval.

This is an online resource available to all carers of people with a long term illness or a disability or who are older and frail, staff,  employers and members of the public who wish to know about carers and how they can be supported in the Borough. The online course has also been used to train staff in the 13 libraries across the Borough. Carers were included from the start in the development of the material. Carers were sceptical about the fact that this is an e-resource and not everyone has a PC but it was emphasized that this material can be accessed in public access computers, by other people on their behalf and can be delivered as face to face (blended) learning. The online course was developed, trialled and is now live which is linked to a Carer Aware accreditation scheme.

Carers and staff  were involved at each stage of development through being given access  to an e-demonstration site. They commented on style, format, ease of use, accessibility and usefulness of information.

To read more, please visit: UK Good Practice Collection

Kirsti Ala-Mutka: Mapping Digital Competence:Towards a Conceptual Understanding; JRC67075 –  2011
UK Good Practice Collection
Developing Skills for Carers
Alistair Lockhart-Smith, Fiona Aldridge, Helen Plant, Helen Stevens, Joy Oakley, Linda Miller, Ljaja Sterland, Lorraine Casey, Tom Higgins: : Get Connected – Impact Evaluation

Author: Eva Suba

Social networks and online discussion forums can be used to engage in social contact with people everywhere, regardless of their age or state of health. The opportunity to maintain social relationships is especially important for the elderly and when done extensively is one of the key elements of aging well. However, many older adults in Europe are not spending their time online, let alone using social networks. For example, in the UK only 33% of adults aged 75 years and over had ever used the Internet. In the same country, Ofcom (Independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries) estimates that while 92% of online 16-24 year olds have created a profile on a social networking site, only 25% of online adults over 65 have done the same.
So why don’t the elderly engage in social networks? It is due only to the attitudes and perceptions that they have about these networks (e.g. “I am too old” and “It is too complicated”) or do actual existing barriers (e.g. related to declining health or a lack of resources) keep them at bay? This is a difficult question to answer and more research needs to be done into the real causes, and how these barriers can be removed.
In this article we will tackle the possibilities that social media and online discussion forums can offer to the elderly and how they can actively engage in social networking.

Connect with others, keep in touch and feel empowered

One benefit of social media for the elderly population is the possibility to keep in touch with friends and family through yet another medium, and one that is increasingly popular. Another benefit is that they can join groups and discussions with others interested in the same topics and hobbies. More importantly, they can share their problems with others, from the comfort and privacy of their own home. Author Anja K. Leist  summarises well the disinhibiting effect of online communities: in revealing otherwise painful or embarrassing information, self-disclosure is perceived easier via ICT than via eye-to-eye contact. Social media can, when used effectively, provide older adults with empowerment- a concept that refers to a global sense of connectedness and increased control and self-efficacy. It is interesting to point out that the benefit of empowerment is not limited to the elderly person, but also extends to others around e.g. the formal and informal care-givers. In a study investigating an online forum of care-givers, the number of messages posted per week reduced the negative feelings of strain in the care-giver and improved well-being for both care-giver and patient.

What about the dangers?

Not much is known about potentially negative consequences of social media use of older adults although the subject has been well studied in reference to children and teenagers. It is clear that negative outcomes need to be communicated as well if one wants the elderly person to use social media in a responsible and safe way. One threat that is always present is the misuse of personal information with criminal intent e.g. uploading holiday pictures after providing information on the home address could lead to a theft in one0s home.  Not so common but still plausible is the threat from identity theft (as it is relatively easy on some networks to set up a fake account in the name of someone else). Cyberbulling could also be a threat in the future. These issues can be eased by providing the elderly with clear information on how to deal with personal data online. This information is best provided by a family member or e-facilitator who knows how to handle privacy settings on a given network.

Some ideas

To get the most out of social media, one needs to be active on the sites. A family member, a care-giver or a facilitator can be the right person to explain concepts such as photo uploading, content sharing and similar. The older person who starts using the network will only feel empowered if they know how to find a friend, contribute to a discussion, upload media content and share this content on their profiles. There are also available specific guides on social media for the elderly.
Communication on social networks and the benefits of joining should always address the perceived attitudes among the elderly, and come up with solutions to overcome actual barriers. An excellent starting point is the home environment: using the knowledge of the informal and formal caregivers or persons who visit the elderly regularly. Another resource is the local telecentre or library where an e-facilitator is aware of the issues at hand and can help the elderly get connected onto social media sites and extend their networks.
Let us not forget that social networking sites themselves need to be more inclusive. Barriers need to be researched better so that developers can adapt their usability and user friendliness. For example, older users could be made more comfortable using social networks if privacy settings are closed-off by default, so that their information is not automatically broadcasted.


Social networks may play a key role in getting the elderly to enjoy the benefits of digital empowerment. Social networks alone cannot fulfill the important need for social  contact but are a valid and increasingly used tool to complement other ways of social interaction. In order to get older people to use social networks family members, care-givers, community facilitators and trainers should step in and provide assistance. In the same time design and user friendliness need to be addressed by social network developers.


Social Media Use of Older Adults: A Mini-Review
Author: Anja K. Leist
Found on web: November, 6 2013

Adults media use and attitudes report
Author: Ofcom
Published: April 2013
Found on web: November, 6 2013

Silver surfers forgotten in social media boom
Author: Chris Norval, The Conversation
Published: Sep 18, 2013
Found on web: November, 7 2013

Author: Masha Tarle

The careNET consortium is happy to announce that based on a careful analysis, the Map of domains for common and specific digital competences for domiciliary care workers and care recipients aged 65+ years is now publicly available. The result of an analysis and description is to be published after collaborative exercises in the development process in two workshops, respectively outlining the methodological bottom up approach in relation to study the common and specific competences for the two target groups and elaborating on the map of domains of competence working with grouping and wording of the areas of competences.

The digital competences are defined by an analysis of ‘day-to-day’ activities in real context of work and life, against a background of affordances of available technology. The identified competences are described in the Map of domains of competence. Data has been collected in the careNET partnership, respectively in France, United  Kingdom, Italy, Greece, Spain, Denmark and Hungary to provide the content for the descriptions of the competence areas and interrelated competences in the Map of domains of competence. A survey with self-administered questionnaires has provided quantitative data from 130 care recipients’ and 108 care worker in domiciliary about their use of computer, the Internet and mobile phones for analysis concerning common digital competences. Focus group interviews and individual interviews have provided qualitative data from 27 older people and 20 care workers as first movers for analysis regarding specific digital competences for both target groups. In relation to the identification of  the Foundational Competences, the research on Digital Competence from the DIGCOMP project (Ferrari, 2012)  at the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), Joint Research Centre has been used initially in relation to define areas the common competences. In the analysis of the data in the CareNET project there has been elaborated collaboratively in the partnership on grouping and wording the common and specific areas of competence for care recipients and care workers. The analysis of the data are validated in reviews from national stakeholders i.e. associations active in the field or experts.

The common digital competences for care recipients and care workers are the foundational areas of competence:
1.      Technological orientation,
2.      Information seeking and management,
3.      Communication, collaboration and participation,
4.      Creation of content and knowledge,
5.      Privacy and security
6.      Informed decision making and problem-solving.

The specific digital competences for the care recipients are the day-to-day areas of competences:
1.      Online transactions,
2.      Social connections,
3.      Wellbeing,
4.      Leisure,
5.      Community participation
6.      Self-expression.

The specific digital competences for the care workers are the vocational areas of competence:
1.      Care management and administration,
2.      Peer learning,
3.      Employability,
4.      Enabling the ICT use by others.

The Map of domains of competence is used in the careNET project to the design and develop learning paths and resources for the identified ICT competences for care recipients and care workers. These are tested in the pilot phase in Spain and France as the validation of the work.

The full report will be available publicly on the careNET project’s website.

Ferrari, Anusca (2012): Digital Competence in Practice: An Analysis of Frameworks. JRC Technical Reports. Report EUR25351 EN