Over €4 million worth of EU funding has been awarded to the international network ‘ENTWINE informal care’, led by Prof. Mariët Hagedoorn and Prof. Robbert Sanderman from the department of Health Psychology at the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG). The grant will be used to train 15 novice researchers to study and solve questions relating to sustainable ways of providing informal care. The University of Twente and Nedap Healthcare are involved to coordinate the design and implementation of novel technologies.
Long-term sustainability of healthcare systems
Informal carers provide unpaid care to relatives or friends with a chronic illness, disability or another long-term care need. An ageing population and medical advances are causing a sharp rise in the care needs of the elderly and the sick, while the availability of informal carers in Europe is dropping. European healthcare systems rely heavily on the services of informal carers, but there are fears for the long-term sustainability of these systems. Who will look after our elderly relatives in the future, and how?
For the purposes of this research, the ENTWINE network will focus on both the increasing need for care and people's willingness and capacity to provide care. Cultural and individual differences will be among the factors examined. Combining knowledge from the fields of both psychology and technology will enable the network to develop support to help informal carers keep up their commitment and to promote positive caregiving experiences. This could involve using social robots to reduce stress among informal carers, or fitting homes with sensors to monitor confused or vulnerable care recipients. The network also wants to find the best way of implementing support such as this for informal carers. By providing this research opportunity and training programme for novice researchers, the network hopes to take up a key position in the development of sustainable informal care in Europe.
Various academic fields
The strength of the ENTWINE network stems from the close collaboration between researchers from various academic fields and between universities, businesses and non-profit organizations in a range of European countries. The researchers (PhD students) will be appointed in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Israel, Italy and Sweden. As 15 PhD positions are available, the network is interested in candidates from diverse backgrounds including psychology, sociology, economics and technology, as well as computer, communication and health sciences. Applications are welcome until 30 November 2018.
The EU grant has been allocated as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme: a programme that aims to give novice researchers a chance to improve their research skills, work with established research teams and elevate their own career prospects. Grants are awarded on the understanding that the projects involve several organizations from different European countries and that close collaboration will develop between research institutes and businesses.