Informal carers can be defined as persons who provide unpaid care to someone with a chronic illness, disability or other long-lasting health or care need, apart from a professional or formal framework. According to recent research, carers across the EU provide over 80% of all care, with women providing approximately two-thirds of care mainly as daughters (in law) and wives/partners. Over 90% of people providing informal care on a regular basis have a family relationship with the people they care for. Carers carry out, often regularly, significant or substantial caring tasks, and – although caring for a loved one can be a source of great personal satisfaction, it does create its own set of challenges. These can include physical and mental health problems, a feeling of isolation, difficulty in balancing paid work with care responsibilities, perhaps even financial worries as social provisions are cut back. Advances in medicine also mean that carers find themselves having to deliver more and more sophisticated levels of care, with very little training and minimal support. Research, as well as the experience of service providers, demonstrates that carers are an often invisible and yet crucial pillar of European care systems. For instance, the census carried out in Ireland in 2016 showed that a total of 195,263 persons (4.1% of the population) were providing unpaid assistance to others, an increase of 8,151 (4.4%) on the 2011 figure of 187,112. Within the “Learn4Carers” project we will target carers and professionals working for and with carers of every age group, irrespective of the particular health need of the person they are caring for. While this depends on the ability to access and afford formal care, it may also be related to the societal expectations of families to provide care for their own relatives. As the recognition of carers and the support mechanisms that are available varies significantly across Europe, a transnational approach to learning about support services for carers and sharing good practices for professionals is a promising undertaking. Both project partners from Greece will benefit and learn from the Irish and French experience during the project, the webinars, the face to face meetings and will have several opportunities to mobilize and educate carers, professionals and citizens. Greek, French and Irish partners will benefit from the European dimension, experience and reach provided by the Eurocarers network, which brings together carers’ organizations as well as relevant research & development organizations from 25 countries. This unique combination will enable evidence-based advocacy. The project can build on the existing European experience that includes countries such as the UK which have good support services. We also included for that reason the organisation Coalition of Carers in Scotland as an associated partner in our Erasmus+ project. Greek partners will share good practices for carers in Athens. (e.g. Greek Carers Network advocacy, services). Each partner will undertake steps in its country to promote the need for more support to carers, initiatives to raise awareness of the issue to citizens, and educative activities to professionals about informal carers needs and support methods, with local partners. We will include all the best practices, cases, tools (e.g. web platforms) and interventions in the “Practical guide of best practices in the support of Informal Caregivers in Europe” uploaded in the web, which will be one of the key platforms used for the dissemination of the Learn4Carers project’s outcomes.

Project Duration: 01-12-2018 – 30-11-2020