Perspectives on the Theme of Ageing in Europe

An increasing need for qualified and motivated care workers was emphasized in the first seminar of the ECVET for Elderly Care project that took place in Omnia in March 2013.

All participants complained that there is not enough skilled work force. To make matters worse, many social and health care professionals work actually in other occupations. According to Ms Paula Soivio from the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses, practical nurses tend also to use the early retirement option.

The challenge of making people more interested in studying and working in the elderly care sector was widely shared by the participants. They presented a number of new approaches to elderly care which were seen as an opportunity to enrich the education and training in this sector.

In her opening speech Ms Sirkka Wiman from the Omnia Adult Education Centre set the mapping of education and training needs and the design of coherent units for elderly care as common goals of the partner countries.

Ageing Society

Although the number and proportion of elderly people are increasing in all partner countries, the elderly care traditions and structures vary. Ms Elisabetta Cannova from Speha fresia pointed out that in Italy old people are taken care mostly at home.

- Almost all of the caregivers are their children, spouses or other relatives, especially in the south of Italy. Residential services for the elderly are still scarce and regionally imbalanced, she stated.

In other partner countries, institutional care was a common option, especially in the oldest age groups, but the aspiration was for homelike care. Another trend was the increasing role of private sector in the elderly care.

Homelike Living

Most representatives of the partner countries wanted to make elderly care less institutional and more homelike. Mr Juha Metso from the City of Espoo referred to a number of studies, which showed that good social relationships contributed more to wellbeing than a healthy lifestyle.

To get rid of unwanted loneliness in long-term care, he stressed the need to create a homelike environment with close human relationships and own room for the elderly.

- Full life in old age is the vision of Espoo's Ageing programme that aims at changing the service culture. Living at home is the priority that can be supported through services helping the senior citizens to maintain an independent and active life.

Ms Judith Mahlmann from the Bremer Heimstiftung told about the Housing and Supply concept (Hausgemeinschaftskonzept) introduced in Bremen.

- This concept provides people living in care homes with companionship, autonomy and diversity. The principle is that residents "eat-and-live-in-kitchen". In this cosy surrounding, the Home Economists take care of a homelike service supply and design.

Care at Home

Another programme shifting the provision of elderly care away from institutional setting towards care at home was introduced by Ms Rosemary Stewart and Ms Eileen Murphy from the Anniesland College. As part of the Scottish Government policy of Reshaping Care for Older People, the Programme for Change promotes developments such as community capacity building and new models of care.

- The basic principle is that older people get as good care as the younger people and that a self-directed support becomes the mainstream approach to the delivery of personal support.

Ms Raija Leinonen from the Federation of Foster Care Associations described the Finnish system of Family Care for Older People. It consists of private homes that give full-time care or day-care for the elderly. She believes that compared to institutions, foster families can offer many benefits.

- In a foster family, the residents can participate in daily activities and have a more active and meaningful life, she considered.

Art for the Elderly

I have plenty of stories, but no one to listen to them. This is a problem for many older people living in care institutions according to Ms Kirsti Holmberg from the Helsinki Senior Foundation. Together with Ms Suvi Aaltonen, she described the beneficial impact of art services on elderly people.

- The mission of our performances is also to entertain and comfort and to generate pleasure. Arts connect people by transmitting thoughts, motions and hopes. Arts also stir up positive emotions, they explained.




Ms Sirkka Wiman, Omnia Adult Education Centre: Welcome to Omnia and Finland

Mr Juha Metso, City of Espoo: Elderly Care in Espoo

Ms Paula Soivio, Finnish Union of Practical Nurses: Elderly Care in Finland

Ms Raija Leinonen, Finnish Federation of Foster Care Associations: Family Care for Elderly

Ms Kirsti Holmberg, Helsinki Senior Foundation: Arts and Culture in the Helsinki Senior Foundation

Ms Judith Mahlmann, Bremer Heimstiftung: Professional Partnership of Care and Home Economics - Specific Situation in Bremen, Germany

Ms Rosemary Stewart and ms Eileen Murphy, Anniesland College: Elderly Care in Scotland

Ms Elisabetta Cannova, Speha fresia: Elderly Care Philosophy, Tradition and Future & Continuous Traning in Italy

Ms Vida Staniuliene, Klaipeda College: Long-Term Care System for Elderly in Lithuania

Ms. Maarja All, Kutsekoda: Qualifications and Profile for Elderly Care Worker in Estonia

Ms Merja Suominen, Suomen muistiasiantuntijat ry: Conclusions, Elderly Care in the EU