Swedish Care International, as an internationally active training provider in dementia care and experienced developer of innovative tools for caregivers, is participating in a European Commission funded project Care for Carers to facilitate the creation of online tools for caregivers in Europe. Last week, representatives of the vocational training and elderly care institutions from the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Turkey and Northern Ireland had a Care for Carers meeting in Stockholm to learn more about the creation of interactive learning tools (i.e. create interactive eLearning courses) in dementia care for family and other caregivers.
Below you will find a summary of 5 key points that are important to consider when you create interactive eLearning courses. These points are based on the extensive experience of Swedish Care International and our partner Swedish Dementia Centre.
- Use storytelling as much as possible. Real life stories and cases allow learners to better understand and relate to the information presented in the course. In a course about dementia and dementia care, storytelling can be a good way to illustrate the progress of dementia and show the journey that the caregivers would take during the progression of the disease. Furthermore, storytelling can help learners to understand the feelings of the person they are taking care of and make sense of why it is important to behave in one way and not the other when providing a good quality person-centred care. Of course, to create an interesting and engaging story, a good storyteller should be in the team of eLearning development.
- Text that is easy to read and understand. Field experts are used to presenting information in a detailed and sometimes complicated way. However, informal caregivers often do not have the background information on the related diseases or care of elderly. Therefore, it is recommended to use simple language and avoid scientific expressions or too difficult words. Content testing with the target group and their feedback would be a valuable help in improving the text. A special toolkit could be a good solution to provide more detailed information on specific topics as well.
- Simple and practical advice. In addition to the previous point, we would like to emphasize the importance of very practical and direct advice for everyday situations. Practical solutions on how to deal with symptoms of dementia or some specific common situations, e.g. the power of singing and music in calming the person you care for or ideas for conversation topics, would be very beneficial to the caregivers.
- Well-thought-out use of illustrations, videos or graphics. Graphical elements do not only illustrate situations and make the content more attractive but also help to present the situation from different perspectives. However, the importance of small details in the media should not be underestimated. Every element in the pictures should be uniquely adapted to the specific target group, culture and country. For example, unusual room decorations or furniture in the background of the pictures can distract the learners from the content and make it difficult to relate a personal experience to the scenarios presented in the course. Therefore, in the case of developing a course targeted to an international audience, it is better to illustrate human behaviour and avoid portraying other less important details of the care process, especially if they differ across cultures. In the case of making your photographs or illustrations, do not forget to mention this and prepare clear instructions for your photographers and illustrators.
- Various formats for providing information. Even though eLearning solutions are becoming more popular and provide a range of opportunities to present the content in an interactive and engaging way, there are still many people who would prefer to read the printed version of the content. One more important characteristic of the eLearning courses to consider is its accessibility for people with various disabilities. For example, it is recommended to provide an opportunity to read all the manuscripts of video or sound recordings in case the learner has hearing difficulties.
These are just some of the general recommendations for creating user-friendly, interactive and engaging eLearning courses for caregivers of elderly or people with dementia. To create interactive eLearning courses requires a lot of recourses, dedication as well as creativity but it gives a great opportunity to share knowledge and the best practices with people from all over the world. You can find out more about our eLearning and other internationally available courses on the best Swedish elderly and dementia care practices on our website.