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InCARE closing conference 2023: Supporting Social Innovation in Long-Term Care

Published on: 19-10-2023

In September 2023, Vilans researchers, Ephrem Tesfay and Luuk van Gerven attended the final conference for the InCARE project in Vienna. The project was launched in 2020 to explore ways of implementing social innovations in long-term care (LTC). The design, implementation and evaluation of socially innovative long-term care service pilots were carried out Austria, North Macedonia and Spain. Three years later, all partners met to look back at what InCARE created, how to build on the impact of the project going forward, and what lessons were learned along the way.

Under the theme “Supporting Social Innovation in LTC”, the conference featured several engaging activities, with the highlights being two World Café sessions that examined the complex challenges facing LTC systems today.

World Café1: Supporting Sustainability

‘Supporting Sustainability of Social Experimentation’ was a collaborative discussion divided into three sessions led by the three pilot implementation partners.

  1. ‘Improved Integrated Care in Austria’ by Karin Ondas of Chance B
  2. ‘The Emergency Button Service in North Macedonia’ by Tamara Grbevska of the Red Cross
  3. ‘Improved Dementia Care in Spain’ by Alvaro Garcia of Fundacion Matia

The interactive sessions provided a seamless flow of insights and exchange of ideas, offering fresh perspectives on scaling up and ensuring the sustainability of these pioneering projects.

World Café 2: Challenges and Opportunities for LTC Reform

This World Cafe addressed the following points:

Enhancing Access to Quality LTC Services: Kai Leischsenring from European Center guided the    discussion on improving access to quality LTC services which explored the vital aspects of ensuring that individuals can access the care they need. Participants emphasised the importance of centralising LTC services information to streamline access and reduce the need for users to contact multiple care providers. They also recommended reinforcing legal frameworks concerning LTC and enhancing the qualifications of care providers. Quality management, feedback surveys and public authority involvement were also highlighted for improving the overall system. Recognising informal caregivers for the crucial role they play in care was also mentioned as a key aspect in this area, in addition to the need to shift from a residential care model to more community-based care using deinstitutionalisation strategies.

Promoting Person-Centred Care: Vilans, Ephrem Tesfay facilitated a discussion on the challenges faced when engaging stakeholders in implementing person-centred care (PCC). Participants identified “hard-to-reach” stakeholders and recommended better engagement strategies. They also pondered the key levels where efforts should be intensified for effective PCC implementation.

The consensus was clear, PCC represents a profound shift from traditional care culture, demanding engagement at every level of the healthcare system hierarchy.

Ephrem Tesfay, researcher Vilans

Implementing Training as a tool for LTC system development: Claire Champeix from Eurocarers led the discussion on the role of training in developing LTC systems. Participants emphasised the importance of learning from successful stories like the Spanish training program on emotional and grief management. They also stressed the importance of results-driven training models and cited holistic care, integrating quality of life and well-being as essential elements to be incorporated in training programs. Scaling up mandatory training and certifications and collaborating with the relevant supranational initiatives like EU and WHO to tap into diverse global perspective and practice were also among the discussion points.

9 policy recommendations

Vilans, Luuk van Gerven presented the key policy recommendations derived from the InCARE project policy roadmaps. He described the extent to which the policy roadmap was applied in the implementation of the pilot projects in each of the three countries and reflected on the insights gained by each country. He also identified nine key recommendations that should be considered and reflected in long-term care initiatives, policies and reforms both at national and at European level.

  1. Accelerate reform and recognise long-term care as a growing societal concern.
  2. Increase service capacity especially in community-based settings.
  3. Increase financial protection for long-term care.
  4. Improve recognition, social rights and financial support and access to support services for informal caregivers.
  5. Expand formal care provision to levels that alleviate the burden on caregivers and ensure that caregiving is a choice and not an obligation.
  6. Develop processes that systematically elicit and monitor preferences and attitudes towards care in the population and reflect them in all policies.
  7. Establish long-ter care as an essential branch of social security and increase public investment and expenditure for long-term care.
  8. Reorient care models towards person-centredness and support the development of innovative care solutions.
  9. Take an equity-based approach towards all policies and pursue transformative actions to combat gender, socio-economic, geographical and ethnic inequalities.

A reorientation towards person-centered, participatory, equitable and accessible care models is urgently needed to rebuild declining public trust in the ability of care systems to respond to the preferences and expectations of individuals and communities.

Luuk van Gerven, researcher Vilans

Ongoing international collaboration

The InCARE project’s final conference in Vienna marked one of the pivotal moments in the ongoing international collaboration to develop knowledge and expertise in long-term care, with  one resounding message emerging: coordinated efforts at all levels of the healthcare system are essential for the effective adaptation of innovative solutions and care models like PCC. Integrating PCC into sectors beyond healthcare, such as social services and education are a crucial step towards establishing innovative community-based care models.

InCARE is a transnational research action project co-funded by European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation. The project works with care users, care provider organisations and policy-makers in Spain, Austria and North Macedonia to design, implement and scale-up innovative care services, with the ultimate goal of improving the well-being of older people and their families and increase their access to adequate and affordable care.

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