Eurocarers defines a carer as “a person that looks after family, partners, friends or neighbours in need of help because they are ill, frail or have a disability. The care they provide is unpaid.” In the EU27, 3% of people state that they care for an elderly or disabled relative several times a week, 4% do it once or twice a week and 8% do so less than once a week. Altogether, a quarter of people report being involved in caring for an elderly or disabled relative, amounting to 125 million carers in Europe.
Informal carers remain the most important group of care providers – of 20,7 million dependent older persons in the European Union in 2007, 12,2 were receiving informal care and 8,4 million – formal care.
In this context, in ten years, the need for informal care will increase from 12,2 to 22,3 million older persons (EC Ageing Report, 2007).
Romania, Poland and Czech Republic are 3 of the European countries where the care for elderly lies mostly on the family, and the family members have traditionally this care role, simultaneously with a paucity of formal care services for elderly. For example, in Romania the home care services occupy 0,3% of the eldely need (EC Ageing Report, 2007). Poland and Czech Republic rely most on informal care – in Czech Republic 96,8 % of elderly receive informal care (EC Ageing Report, 2007). Unfortunately, the financial crisis, the poor pay and working conditions have conducted to shortages of local carers – Romania, Poland and Czech Republic are facing this shortage at the present time. The reccommendation of the European Commission is to valorize family as internal resource of care and as valuable resource on the labor market (EC Ageing Report, 2007).
When the care ends, the family (informal) carer loses a sense of purpose as the caring role ends. He/she may need to return to work in order to gain financial security and even to gain a new life meaning.
Also, the informal carer has acquired new skills in his/her care role that may be attractive to potential employers. Informal carers develop several soft skills that might be useful in a wide range of jobs (showing initiative, flexibility, empathy, problem solving) together with relevant technical skills that can be useful when seeking a job in the care field. Romania is facing an acute shortage of professional carers (especially in rural areas), that could lead to necessity of “import” of health workforce. Giving former carers the opportunity to strengthen their skills with an e-learning based course would give them not only useful information for their informal caring role, but also a solid background to start from when looking for a job in the elderly care field.
The ELMI project proposes a transfer of an e-learning training course for informal caregivers from Italy to Romania, and the analysis of its potential transfer to Poland and Czech Republic, helping them in their care role and offering them new skills to re-enter the labour market. Moreover, the training acquired in Romania will be recognized in Italy in the framework of an ECVET agreement that will support the qualified mobility of workers. The ELMI project aims also to develop a strategy to support transition from informal to formal care for former carers.