Informal caregiving support e-learning

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Danny
E-Learning
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Doing Better creates e-learning about informal caregiving support

Over the past six months, we had the opportunity to develop an e-learning course for Mantelzorg Brabantse Wal. This organization represents a collaboration of regional informal caregiving support centers in Bergen op Zoom, Woensdrecht, and Steenbergen.

Who are informal caregivers?

Informal caregivers are individuals who provide long-term care and support for a family member, relative, or friend in need. Many informal caregivers may not realize that the long-term and intensive care they provide can take a toll on their well-being. As the caregiving responsibilities increase, they are at a real risk of burning out without seeing it coming. This not only has a personal impact but also a societal one, as there are 5.5 million informal caregivers in the Netherlands.

Support for informal caregivers

Fortunately, things often go well, and there is good support available for informal caregivers. In our country, this support is organized regionally with informal caregiving support professionals who are knowledgeable about the local support options. However, because informal caregivers may not seek help readily, more referral sources are needed to recognize and facilitate the initial contact between informal caregivers and support professionals in the region.

An e-learning for referral sources

The Mantelzorg Brabantse Wal team initiated a project to educate two target groups through e-learning on how to advise informal caregivers on receiving appropriate support.

  • Healthcare professionals such as doctors and staff from home care organizations and hospitals.
  • Volunteer caregivers.

Both of these groups frequently encounter informal caregivers in their clients’ or patients’ environments but often pay little attention to them in practice, as their primary focus is on the care recipient.

The approach

In collaboration with Doing Better, a specialist in e-learning, a two-stage approach was chosen:

  • A short microlearning course to raise awareness with the message; providing good care also means being attentive to the informal caregivers around your patient/client.
  • A professional development module in the form of a more extensive e-learning.

The short microlearning course was created by Susanne Oostveen and can now be found on the Mantelzorg Brabantse Wal website. This microlearning makes healthcare professionals and volunteers aware of the theme through a series of quiz questions related to practical scenarios. At the end of the test, the learner realizes that being mindful of informal caregivers is an integral part of their work.

The longer professional module was developed by Theo Ybema. It was based on existing source materials provided by the project team, which were reviewed and supplemented with feedback. We then went through several editing rounds to refine the learning objectives and organize and complete the chapters.

Implementation

A crucial principle was that the module should do more than just provide learners with information about informal caregiving. This information must be applied. Learners are asked to engage in conversations with informal caregivers and refer them to local informal caregiving organizations. The assumption was that healthcare professionals, who are usually under time pressure, would need clear instructions on how to have such conversations.

The approach we ultimately chose was to provide a three-step instruction in which learners learn how to:

  • Initiate a brief converstation.
  • Identify concrete needs.
  • Facilitate a referral.

Of course, learners also need to practice such conversations. For this purpose, we designed a conversation simulation that provides learners with numerous positive examples to apply the instruction.

The e-learning “Eye on informal caregiving” (Oog voor Mantelzorg) will be available for healthcare professionals and volunteers in the West Brabant region starting in the fall of 2022. See the demo below!