About The Project
Given the current situation we are experiencing during the COVID19 pandemic, the world’s governments have established different measures as a shock plan, such as declaring states of alert which involve confining the population to their homes for at least 15 days, avoiding social relations and limiting, as far as possible, the spread of the virus.
The elderly are one of the population groups most vulnerable to the effects of this virus and the government and media have been alerting the general population and the older population to the risks posed by this virus, but especially for the latter.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), on 23/04/20, it said that more than 55,000 elderly people had died in care homes in Europe. In the UK 19,394 deaths in care homes in 2020 were attributed to COVID19 (as at 20/06/20) and the Spanish Ministry of Health, on 14/10/20, stated that 20,835 deaths of elderly people in care homes had been due to COVID19 or similar symptoms have been recorded.
But in these circumstances, the older population, increasingly aware of the need to protect themselves, has mixed feelings that range from the need for affection, help or accompaniment to fear, contagion and death, which can affect them psychologically, emotionally and physically.
Making this process and waiting time less traumatic
We believe it is necessary to remember that both the elderly people who are isolated in the care homes, or in their own homes with their relatives, friends or professionals who usually take care of them can carry out small actions that make this process and waiting time less traumatic and more bearable in this complicated and difficult moment we are living.
Changing routines, having to spend more time at home or in care homes, not having physical contact with other people, relatives, neighbours, friends etc. can influence us psychologically and may affect our state of mind. It is good to be aware of this, to recognise it and know that it is normal and that there are guidelines that can help us adapt better to this situation. The feelings and emotions that can appear at this time are very varied, but knowing them and learning strategies can help us to face them with less emotional load, such as negative emotions and feelings of loneliness.
The partners of the project have detected that this pandemic situation is causing great damage directly to the elderly population. We know that it affects mostly the elderly people who live in their homes and with relatives, the elderly people who live alone and the elderly people who live in care homes. It is on this last group of elderly people living in care homes that we are focusing on in this project, as an indirect beneficiary group.
The effects of this situation mainly relate to loneliness, fear, sadness and anxiety and we see how the elderly are confined to the care homes and how their companions in the care homes are dying alone, without the family members being able to accompany them in the last moments of their lives.
Management and emotional skills
With this project, we want to help the elderly people who are living in the care homes through the workers, which would be the direct beneficiary group; those who work with the elderly and do not usually have specific training in management and emotional skills. We want to awaken and develop the capacity for divergent thinking and creativity; to be able to use creativity effectively in the workers of the homes where the elderly people are, in order to face possible situations about fear, sadness, anxiety and loneliness.
Creativity is “something” that we all have to a different extent, it’s not a fixed qualification, it can be developed to different degrees. Creativity can be found in all the tasks of humanity.
This is identifiable when people try to do things in a different way, when they accept challenges to solve problems that directly affect their lives (López Martínez, 2001).
Creativity is necessary in all activities, because it allows the development of cognitive and affective aspects important for the performance of daily tasks in the nursing home. The incorporation of creativity to the elderly care homes represents the possibility of having it as an agent of change capable of facing the challenges in a different and daring way.
For Sternberg (1997), creativity is the future. Ideas put into practice are the future. Progress is a succession of ideas put into practice and stacked on top of each other. It is a rising value, the spring that drives technological, cultural, financial, intellectual and personal advancement.
So, we believe that by encouraging the development and implementation of creativity in nursing home workers who support and care for the elderly, we can contribute to improve the emotional management and support of older people with respect to the fear, sadness, anxiety and loneliness that this pandemic is producing.
The project has a strong link to European employment and education policies. The “Europe 2020” strategy for growth and employment set the objective of achieving an employment rate of 75% for the working age population (20-64 years). The European Commission’s strategy recognises that growth and employment in Europe are crucially dependent on having the right skills in its population.
The Creating Wellbeing project will create materials that stimulate creativity and opportunities for low-skilled people in elderly care homes. These materials will be new and complementary to other products developed by the partners.
The project consists of developing methodologies and processes to provide specific answers to and support for the problems of loneliness, fear, sadness and anxiety that older people living in care homes experience through the creativity of people who work with and support older people. We will create and develop creative formulas to give answers to the different situations of workers with the elderly.
These are not closed formulas but we provide open methodologies so that each person, through learning and guided research can reach context-specific solutions and respond creatively to the particular emotional situation being faced by the elderly in their care.
Professionals need to acquire certain specific skills and competences in order to be able to care for older people in a more appropriate way.
The key innovations of the project focus on two aspects:
We believe that the project is innovative because it responds to the clear and current demands on the health and welfare of the elderly in care homes produced by the situation of COVID19 and derived from the new challenges that these workers face when having to adapt their working practices to the new working environments in the care homes of elderly people.
A new trend in caring for the elderly that is spreading around the world as a result of the pandemic situation calls for a transition in the training of workers in nursing homes. Having only professional skills to care for the elderly in nursing homes may not be enough to do a good job. In addition to workplace skills, emotional management skills are also required to provide a more humane response to the needs of elderly people in care care. This project will determine which are the creative processes for professionals to acquire new skills and professional competences to develop a much more effective work in their working environment.