Life After Care partnership brings together organisations involved in training, support and advocacy of family carers, who often experience significant difficulties in re-engaging in the wider society after many years dedicated to full time care-giving.
The problem identified
According to EUROFAMCARE, there are over 100 million unpaid carers in Europe (25% of the overall European population), mostly women. The average age is 55 but with significant variation across Europe: in Italy for example 30% of carers are less then 45 (ISTAT); in England and Wales3.9 millions carers (75% of total) are of working age (CENSUS) and for over a third of the ?heavy end? carers, caring was their full-time role. Carers are a group at risk of social exclusion: the heavy workload they handle brings consequences such as a lower educational level or risks of income poverty (O?Sullivan ? 2008).
Our contention is that often this lack of reintegration into society is due to a lack of confidence and low self-esteem: former carers are not conscious of the extraordinary legacy of skills and competences that, appropriately supported and strengthen, might allow them to re- enter more easily in the job market. Those former carers not keen to return to work, might use the same acquired skills in voluntary and community based social services for dependent people or in improving caregiver support services through peer support of current carers.
This view is supported also by the work of ACE National, an EQUAL Development Partnership funded in the UK from 2002-2007 which identified the barriers facing carers entering or remaining in employment and developed and tested mechanisms to support them. A full description of the work of ACE National, including reference to its evidence base provided by the Carers, Employment and Services Report Series (Yeandle, S et al (2007) University of Leeds, for Carers UK can be found here.
The partnership will focus on strategies for the empowerment of former carers through acknowledgment and enhancement of interpersonal (stress management, negotiation capacities, empathy, organisation skills?) and technical (lifting and transferring, medication management?) skills acquired in unpaid care-giving so as to help their transition from care giving to post-caregiving. Through networking and field work in the four countries involved, partners aim to develop innovative strategies for acknowledgment and enhancement of skills acquired in unpaid care-giving and their transfer in three areas of intervention:
- (re)integration into the formal labour market
- volunteering in community services
- involvement in carers? organisation
- A GENERAL OVERVIEW REPORT on the phenomenon of caregiving and post-caregiving in Europe
- A HANDBOOK to support transition to post-caregiving, based on what emerged from local and transnational activities
- A FINAL REPORT of results
- A ?Carers? Day? will be promoted in Italy and Greece with the aim of raising awareness of this issue and as an opportunity to disseminate the project?s results (Sofia, Arco and Alzheimer Athens). Dissemination activities will be promoted also by Carers UK and Care Alliance within ?Carers? Week? initiatives which take place annually in Ireland and the UK.