Optimising the psychosocial care for individuals with birth defects in Europe by implementing an innovative training method for staff in health care and NGO settings.

About the project

There is a substantial need for the development of high quality work-based VET in the healthcare sector that works with congenital anomalies. In Europe, 1 one out of 40 pregnancies is affected by congenital anomalies that can result in medical, social and/or psychological disabilities throughout the lifespan for the affected individuals and their families. When it comes to children with disabilities there are often negative consequences in their education, which can have a detrimental effect on their future. One of the most common congenital anomalies is orofacial cleft that requires treatment from birth to adulthood. Besides from the obvious medical perspective, studies have reported poorer performance trajectories in educational settings for individuals with orofacial cleft in comparison to their otherwise healthy peers.

Currently, the resources in our health care system across Europe are quite varied and the demand on resources is increasing rapidly. This result in that children does not get the access to the necessary care provision, especially in screening for diagnostics or treatment implications that can have a negative impact on their education. The idea of the project was shaped at the European Parliament meeting “The challenges of health inequalities in the treatment and prevention of birth defects in Europe: An information workshop for MEPs and NGOs at the European Parliament” in Brussels and further strengthening and supported by the ongoing networking project COST Action IS1210 funded by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020.

By having a consortium of psychosocial (UK), public health (SE) and pedagogical experts in vocational training in accordance with the EQF, ECVET and EQAVET frameworks (NO) together with hospitals (BG, LT, RS, SE, TR) and NGO’s that works directly with individuals with congenital anomalies and their families (BG, NL) ensures that a functional training program can be delivered.

The aim is to develop a training package for health care professionals that have limited or no access to psychological input about the medical and psychosocial variables that can influence educational achievement. They would also be trained to deliver this information to the parents of the children with orofacial clefts. The parents would be trained to recognise behavioural symptoms and other psychosocial aspects that could negatively influence educational outcomes. This would result in that the parents can feedback to the health professionals in a systematized way.

The preparatory work by the consortium validates that this is a project that meets the focus of the European commission (European Commission Communication ‘European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: A Renewed Commitment to a Barrier-Free Europe’, November 2010; European Commission Communication ‘Early Childhood Education and Care: Providing all our children with the best start for the world of tomorrow’, February 2011; European Commission Communication ‘The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion’, December 2010) and that each partner is highly motivated to allocate resources since there is an established need and consequently implementation and sustainability of the project is assured.

This will be accomplished by to develop a training course in a modular form that will be piloted on 50 – 100 health professionals in the following partners' countries (BG, LV, RS, SE, TR) in order to ensure the effectiveness and cultural adaptation. The final product will be available for free via the website of the project.

The impact is the following:

- A functional training program for health professionals and members of NGO’s.

- The material will incorporate recommendations from EQF, ECVET and EQAVET frameworks

-Through the development of a short training course for health professionals that addresses the medical and treatment aspects that can influence educational outcomes in individuals with orofacial cleft that is also cultural adopted to each participating partner increase significantly the long term effect.

- The project would facilitate parental engagement since they will be actively involved in their child’s health care and educational achievements

- Contribute to reducing the unintentional marginalization and social exclusion in health care settings by promoting cross-cultural care

- Quickly have an impact that enhances service provision for the affected individuals/families

- Since the training course will be short, it will be economically viable to implement it on a broad scale across Europe.

- Between 100 – 200 health professionals and relevant members of NGOs partake in a National Multiplier.  

Not only the design and methodology of the project ensure long-term effect, all partners are known actors in the field of VET in relation to the training of Health Professional and are well known in health networks and Higher Education.