Digital technologies can transform the experience of those receiving care, whether this care is provided by a friend or family member to a loved one or by a paid care worker to a client. However, this requires carers and often the cared-for person to be familiar with these technologies in the first place. DISCOVER aims to familiarise carers with digital technologies and embed them in their day-to-day lives.

For example, numerous web sites provide useful information on a range of topics (such as health, housing, finance and support) and DISCOVER makes these more accessible. DISCOVER will 'scoop' together and select the best websites for carers, making them accessible from one site. Similarly, handheld devices such as mobile phones offer much potential for improving communication between carers and service providers. DISCOVER will work with carers and care services to provide appropriately targeted information to carers through mobile devices, including mobile phones. Digital television is another potentially useful means of engaging with carers.

DISCOVER is about using these and other digital technologies to enable carers to find the information they need, when they need it and in an appropriate format. It is about carers using digital technologies as an everyday part of their care routine and thus removing the boundaries between formal learning and experiences that take place at home. Carers can watch short video clips on caring in the videos section of the DISCOVER website and, later, discuss or share an idea with other carers accessing DISCOVER.

The concept of enhancing care experiences through learning and technology is taken further by the new DISCOVER learning environment. This delivers and supports learning and includes facilities for learners and teachers to have a dialogue about the activity, all via ICT.

What are we aiming to achieve?

DISCOVER will be piloted in four testbeds across the EU, including Greece, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. This will involve 400 family and paid carers who will each receive digital skills training to maximise the potential of digital technologies to support them in their caring role.

Expected benefits include improved digital skills, better communication and support for carers i.e. less isolation through the development of social networks, increased confidence and thus a better quality of life. The benefits for those being cared for will include improvements in quality of care and levels of independent living.

Ongoing evaluation of the project will inform the development of a sustainable model for providing DISCOVER as a service for carers and care organisations. Through our awareness raising and dissemination activities we aim to increase the integration of ICT into care provision across the EU.

How will we do this work?

DISCOVER will work together to offer:

  • Digital skills training for carers
  • Easily accessible information on a wide range of relevant areas
  • Free, pre-training to prepare carers to participate in learning programmes
  • Expert guidance for carers throughout the programme
  • Free access to a wide range of online practical, learning and digital engagement resources for carers.
  • Opportunities to network and learn from other carers and programmes.

Who is DISCOVER for?

  • Family carers
  • Volunteer carers
  • Paid care workers and
  • Care organisations
  • Policymakers

When will we do this work?

To reflect the developmental nature of the project and the role of carers in shaping what services will be offered by DISCOVER, our activities will be divided into 'stages'. The project started in April 2012 and lasts until March 2015.

  • Stage 1 – development of the DISCOVER web portal and learning environment as a 'one stop resource' for carers' information and ICT skills development (April 2012 – May 2013)
  • Stage 2 – the pilot phase in which we will work with carers in four EU countries to test the effectiveness of different technologies to support the diverse needs of carers (June 2013 – June 2014)
  • Stage 3 - in conjunction with stages 1 and 2 is designed to increase the motivation for service providers to engage with DISCOVER (September 2013 – March 2015)
  • Stage 4 - in conjunction with stages 1 to 3 is designed to engage carers with DISCOVER, and particularly the learning environment (June 2013 – March 2015)

What will be the impact of this work?

An initial cohort of 400 carers and 200 cared-for older people will have improved their digital skills. The project will measure their learning achievements and improvements to quality of life.

In the long-term we will provide digital skills development and support to carers locally, achieved through the development of:

  • a sustainable model of digital inclusion for carers
  • a series of resources, including learning programmes designed with and for carers to support them in the most practical ways
  • the DISCOVER website which will host and signpost to materials that support carers in developing their digital skills.

Contact Information:
Heike Schuster-James | Birmingham City Council
T: +44 121 675 8887
E: birm@discover4carers.eu

I wish there were more sites like DISCOVER so we could find more relevant information for carers.

Birmingham carer