There are over 600.000 caregivers in Flanders: unpaid people caring for a relative or friend who is sick or has special needs. These carers indicate that they experience difficulties in finding accessible information or respite care (someone who temporarily takes over the cagivers tasks). Research also proved that carers are more at risk of social isolation and depression. At !DROPS, we wanted to change this.
With InTouch, !DROPS defines the psychosocial needs of the Flemish caregivers. We do this by working with caregivers on three locations in West-Flanders. Subsequently, we organize creative labs for the carers. Through this, we stimulate them to come up with initiatives which can offer a solution for this social challenge.
The creative labs revealed that caregivers feel the need to relax from time to time, without the responsibility to care for someone. In addition, they noticed that people who don’t have experience in caring for someone, often don’t understand their struggles. In response, the carers decided to organize monthly meetings. An online tool and an educational program also came up as potential solutions.
On the three locations we worked, local caregivers set up their own Caregiver Cafe. They decided on a name, a logo and the location. Each month, they also take responsibilities to ensure the continuity and sustainability of their Caregiver Cafe.
In addition to that, !DROPS created the Caregiver Academy. This consists of several useful trainings for both carers and professionals working with them. At the moment, final touches are also being made to a brand new digital platform: Caregivers Online. Through this platform, carers will find useful information and are able to get in touch with others and social services.
The interest cities and towns expressed in InTouch, proves that there is a big need for sustainable initiatives that support caregivers. For this reason, !DROPS decided to combine the three harvested solutions into one package: the Caregiver Hub. Starting in 2018, cities and towns will be able to use this package to create their own local safety net for (and with) caregivers.
Do you want to know if there is a Caregiver Cafe in your neighborhood? Check it out on www.mantelzorgcafe.be!