The proliferation of various care services in most developed countries has led to a pressing demand for formal carers (such as nurses and health professionals) and, in particular, informal carers (notably family members) who are nowadays the backbone of long-term care systems in most European countries and beyond. The informal carers role is very challenging, given that they have to deal with a variety of symptoms, treatments and care services, which span a wide range of illnesses, diseases, chronic conditions and health problems. Specifically, informal carers need to be able to understand the various conditions of elderly, patients and vulnerable individuals, while also possessing the knowledge and skills required to provide them support. At the same time informal carers are in need of psychological support in order to be able to cope with the psychological challenges of their role (i.e. the so called emotional labour) and perform their tasks in a sustainable way.

EU and national long-term care policies acknowledge the role of informal carers and in several cases provide them incentives and financial benefits. However, there is still no adequate support to informal carers in terms of training towards improving their skills and alleviating their psychological stress. In response to these challenges, CarerSupport project will implement, deploy and test an integrated ICT platform enabling the participation and collaboration of informal carers, psychologists and health professionals towards facilitating the training, learning, orientation, and psychological support.

In particular, the project will deploy and offer to informal carers:

1) Training, learning and orientation programmes, including general-purpose training programmes and programmes that emphasize on the carers’ digital skills. The former will include introductory blended-learning programmes emphasizing on the needs of elderly, and on how to plan and perform the most common care-related activities. The latter will enable carers to use and fully leverage ICT based solutions for active ageing and social inclusion, notably AAL solutions.

2) Psychological support services, aiming at alleviating the stress of informal carers, while at the same time providing them with emotional support. The scope of the support to be provided will include social support services, services facilitating carers to discharge their role, services alleviating stress and boosting mental health, as well as services that could minimize or eliminate smoking and drinking. The support to be provided will facilitate carers to deal with their own sorrow and sense of impending loss. The ICT platform of the project will support psychological services through appropriate on-line gaming activities, on-line tips and advice, quizzes, as well as educational activities assisting them in better planning and carrying out their tasks.

3) Collaboration services, which will emphasize communication and experience sharing between formal and informal carers. The main goal of these services will be to achieve knowledge transfer from experienced formal carers to the (usually) less experienced informal carers. As part of those services synchronous services for advise and handling/dealing with emergencies will be provided (e.g., in the form of a web-based 112 service for informal carers).

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