Assessing their impact on the sustainability of long-term care in an ageing Europe
The main goal of CARICT was to investigate the potential impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on informal carers of older people living in the community (e.g. relatives and friends) as well as on paid assistants employed by private households. Such ICT-based initiatives might be effective and efficient in supporting these categories of carers, but scientific evidence in this respect is currently lacking in Europe.The CARICT project aimed at starting to fill this gap, by describing the impact of these ICT-based services and developing guidelines for using appropriate impact assessment methodologies (IAMs) in this field.
In particular, the objectives of the study were:
- to map the most relevant ICT-based initiatives existing in Europe to support carers of older people living in the community;
- to review impact assessment methodologies (IAMs) for home care and make a first attempt to build an IAM for evaluating the multidimensional effects of ICTs in such contexts;
- to analyse in-depth 12 good practices in order to present results of positive effects of ICT-based initiatives;
- to identify the most relevant policy challenges and options to achieve sustainable ICT solutions to support informal home care in Europe.
The mapping exercise (point “a” above) identified 52 ICT-based initiatives in 12 European countries belonging to five distinctive care regimes models (Anglosaxon, Continental, Scandinavian, Mediterranean, and Eastern European ones).Through a literature review, an internet-based search and interviews with key actors of the selected initiatives, evidence has been gathered that shows how some of these initiatives allow informal carers and privately paid assistants to better interact with the dependent older persons they care for, increasing family carers’ quality of life, social inclusion and integration into the labour market as well as the care quality. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, the analysis found commonalities and differences in the challenges faced and in the success factors when developing ICT-based services for caregivers.This contributes to better understand their set-up and the actors involved as well as their different features in terms of complexity level, local- national-international coverage and technologies involved.
Furthermore, a first attempt to build an IAM for evaluating the multidimensional effects of ICTs in home care has been made.This refers to a comprehensive instrument built on the background of a coherent conceptual framework able to take into account the multidimensional impact of these technologies on individuals (micro-level), on social relationships and organisations like local care providers and employers (meso-level), as well as on the overall care and social protection systems (macro-level). Such IAM was built upon seven main dimensions of impact concerning the quality of life of the carer (both informal and formal) and of the care recipient, the quality of care provided, the care efficiency and sustainability, the acceptability of the ICT tools, and the infra- structure and accessibility.
Guidelines have been prepared in order to identify how further developments of IAMs in this field can be facilitated, underlining the methodological issues to be solved to properly face such a challenge and the requirements for building adequate assessment tools.Also recommendations for experts and policy makers have been presented in order to show how IAM can contribute to produce results that can guide policy and practice in the field of long-term care and ICT for inclusion (points “c” and “d”).
The project, which began in December 2010 and ended in December 2011, was based on three meetings: a kick-off meeting, held in Vienna (February 2011); an Expert Validation Workshop, held in Brussels (June 2011), which involved over 30 international experts and practitioners in the fields of informal caregiving, research, and long-term care policies to validate intermediate results of the project; and a Policy Makers’ and Experts’ Validation Workshop, held in Brussels (November 2011) to validate the final CARICT outcomes.
The project consortium included, besides the European Centre, four national partners: the Centre for International Research on Care, Labour and Equalities (CIRCLE) of the University of Leeds; the Italian National Institute of Health and Science on Aging (INRCA); the Institute of Sociology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; and the Swedish National Family Care Competence Centre (SNFCCC). Also Carers UK, on behalf of EUROCARERS, participated to the study as international advisor.