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Report on the DELAROSE Final Project Conference "E-Dimension of Staff Development in Disability Services Sector"

The social care workforce for persons with disabilities and senior citizens is one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of employment expansion in Europe. However, there are signs that austerity measures are hindering this expansion. In general, the disability services sector is characterised by high training needs, work-related stress, low pay jobs, low status and part-time contracts. This trend is worrying, given the fact that the demand for social services will remain high due to Europe’s ageing population. In order to meet the needs for adequate support services and inclusion of the elderly and people with disabilities, it is essential to empower social care workers, both in terms of professional knowledge and physical wellbeing.


The DELAROSE final conference “E-Dimension of Staff Development in the Disability Services Sector” took place on September 21, 2015 in Brussels, Belgium. The event was focused on ICT solutions for human resources development in the disability services sector, including tools allowing care workers manage their work-related stress.


The conference aimed to:

  • Encourage development for social care workers through ICT to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities;
  • Raise awareness of the importance of stress management skills among social care workers;
  • Promote knowledge sharing;
  • Exchange best practices. 

The event has become a great opportunity for DELAROSE project partners to present the outcomes of DELAROSE e-learning training courses on stress-management for social services workers. The conference aimed to launch the training courses at the European level.


Overview of Welcome and Keynote Speeches 

Welcome Speech

Luk Zelderloo

Secretary General of the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities

Main messages: 

  • The social and health services across Europe face serious staff shortages and poor working conditions in many countries.
  • Staff does not have sufficient and adequate skills due to the lack of training opportunities both before and during their career development.
  • In many countries, social care personnel is still trained under the medical model.
  • Disability sector employs about 8 million people, with women being overrepresented in the workforce.
  • Employment in the sector is growing fast: during the crisis this sector was one of the most stable in terms of job creation.
  • In many countries there is a shortage of staff particularly due to poor working conditions, long working hours and low pay.
  • In Belgium, there is a 50 percent pay gap in the disability sector in comparison to other sectors.
  • The economic crisis has led to declining public spending: staff have to do more for less.
  • One can observe a drastic change in thinking from a patronising approach to a client-centred approach based on UNCRPD principles.
  • Importance of developing a face-to-face relationship between care workers and users: focus on needs, desires, and wishes.
  • Research shows that a shift from institutionalised care to community-care support can go relatively smoothly: 80 percent of staff can be successfully re-trained, while the remaining 20 percent find the re-training more difficult;
  • Projects like DELAROSE are helpful as they highlight the need to invest in services and in people. They also attempt to obtain accreditation and recognition for skills and qualifications.
  • Social dialogue instruments should be developed – we have such instruments already.
  • VET should be developed based on training that help to move away from the medical model.

Keynote speaker

James Churchill 

Hon President of the Board of the European Care Certificate,
Chair of the EASPD Interest Group on Workforce and Human Development

“Let’s start at the very beginning…” 
How ICT and e-learning can make a difference for social care workers at all levels

Main messages:

  • Staff who work in social care need to be able to do all of the following things:
    • recognise and manage stress – both in themselves and in their fellow workers;
    • understand how Information and Communication Technology can help them in their job AND to provide a better quality of life for the people they support;
    • have a positive attitude to learning new ideas, new ways of working;
    • share best practices with each other as a natural and normal way of working.
  • The social care workforce in the EU is over 20 million and the number is increasing;
  • Staff need basic induction training which covers all the essential knowledge and attitudes, which can be delivered through BESCLO (Basic Social Care Learning Outcomes);
  • European Care Certificate is a means to assess whether or not a worker does in fact know and understand all this basic knowledge

Slides presented by Mr. Churchill are available here.


Keynote speaker

Carlo Scatoli

Team leader – Strategic instruments and frameworks, Vocational training and adult learning Unit, DG Education and Culture, European Commission
EU Policy on Vocational Education and Training (VET): transparency and recognition of skills and qualifications

Main points:

  • ECVET (European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training) can be used as a tool for the health care and social care sector through better retraining for adults
  • ECVET is important in this sector because of significance of in-job training

Objectives of program:

  • Apprenticeships and work-based learning
  • Cooperation between VET providers and businesses
  • Flexible pathways
  • Teachers’ and trainers’ skills (“train the trainers”)


Introduction to Delarose

John Wells

Head of the School of Health Sciences, Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT)


Prof. Dr. Wells, the coordinator of the DELAROSE Project, has highlighted following points in his presentation:

  • There is a strong relationship between stress and austerity measures.
  • The problem with sustaining a proper work-life balance is that stress is also brought to our home.
  • Most attention goes not to the carers, but the people they care for, but “who cares for the carers?”
  • The aim of DELAROSE is to support carers in their lives – their private and work life. The health and social care sector are particularly prone to work-related stress.
  • The approach of the DELAROSE project: Online and mobile access to supporting individuals in their work place by developing a cost effective, accessible and user-friendly web program.

 Slides presented by Prof. Dr. Wells are available here.


Overview of Workshops

Workshop 1. ALDO Project: Virtual laboratory of best practices for teachers and trainers who work with disabled persons:

Led by: Timothy Ghilain, Project and Development Officer, EASPD

Mr. Ghilain presented the ALDO Project (Adults with a Learning Disability, Observatory of Best Practice) and introduced the project’s online observatory that can be found on the website
Slides presented by Mr. Ghilain are available here.




Workshop 2. Gain ECVET and ECT credit while learning how to manage work-related stress

Led by: Jillian Sexton, Human Resource Training & Development Co-ordinator, National Federation of Voluntary Bodies; Cathal Ryan, Research Assistant DELAROSE Programme, Waterford Institute of Technology

National Federation of Voluntary Bodies Providing Services to People with Intellectual Disability (NFVB) comprises of 62 member organisations and 15.000 staff employed. The website offers learning -on-line experience. Ms. Sexton also mentioned the website, which is the Health Services e-Learning and Development Service, where people can access 130 online learning programmes, resources, assessments and planning tools.

Further, Ms. Sexton presented the challenges facing the Service Providers, which are:

  • Significant policy and legislative changes
  • Financial pressures
  • Reduced staff
  • ICT/Infrastructure
  • Regulatory/Compliance environment (HIQA).

 All of the challenges discussed by Ms. Sexton, represent major sources of stress for social care employees and managers.


Some of the reasons why NFVB is interested to get involved with the DELAROSE Project are:

  • The subject matter
  • The accreditation element of the project
  • The online element.

Next followed a short presentation of the DELAROSE Project. Within this project, NFVB is preparing to launch the online course: “Certificate in the Management of Work Related Stress” which will have 20 ECTS according to the ECVET and ECTS Accreditation launched in 2009 by EP and CONS to support people educated through vocational education.
The conclusive discussion in the room was centred on the necessity of developing this vocational side of the ECTS, which could cover the ECVET, especially due to the fact that lately at the EU level it is more and more recognized the incompatibility of transferring the credits from ECVET to ECTS.
Slides presented by Ms. Sexton and Mr. Ryan are available here.


Workshop 3. Relax, take it easy! Relaxation exercises to fight stress

Led by: Wolfgang Ruf, Research assistant at the Department of Physical Activity and Public Health, Institute of Sports Science, University of Graz
Mr. Ruf presented some of the anti-stress at work exercises that can be found on the DELAROSE Project website and provided training on the spot to the participants in the room, on how they can reduce work related stress, through some self-massage exercises.
Examples of relaxation techniques provided by DELAROSE are:

  • Self-massage
  • Breathing exercise

The impact of the techniques is very individual, which means that everyone has to try what works for them and what does not.

How to access the training materials online?

  1. Go to the DELAROSE project website
  2. Select “Person Centered Management of Work-Related Stress”
  3. Scroll down and select “Learning How to Relax”
  4. Enjoy the module!


Workshop 3. Develop digital competences of care workers

Led by: Gloria Ortiz, EU project manager, IPERIA L’Institut

Main messages:

  • IPERIA - French Institute for the professionalisation of family employment – promotes training of care workers in order to ensure qualified professionals for the needs of the ageing. It also aims to introduce digital tools in the households of the ageing.
  • Care workers can effectively address the transmission, adaptation and comprehension requirements requested to introduce digital tools and options in the households for the ageing.
  • Carer + Project ( aims at stimulating a wider uptake of innovative ICT based services and the exploitation of digital content across Europe.
  • Objectives of Carer + are to:
    • To offer to care workers a set of digital competences to help elder people and to improve their quality of life, autonomy and safety
    • To offer to care workers a set of digital competences to enhance their employability and their professional development.
  • Pilots took place in France, Italy, Spain, Romania, and Latvia, and engaged about 250 care workers.

Slides presented by Ms. Ortiz are available here.

Interactive Session and Concluding remarks


Workshop leaders presented their materials and were available for questions and discussions during a coffee break.
The closing speech was delivered by Prof. Dr. John Wells, who made concluding remarks and gave a positive résumé to the conference. He also raised an important question about the sustainability of EU-funded projects, such as DELAROSE. He highlighted the need for the European Commission to increase funding in order to allow sustainability in the sector.

DELAROSE Team thanks you for joining the event.