“Info.cuidador” appears to “support and advise informal caregivers” from the Eastern Algarve

Social innovation project of the Humanitarian Center of Tavira da Cruz Vermelha aims to «be extended to the entire country»

Photos: Rúben Bento | Sul Informação

Virgínia Santos, 70, the caregiver of her partner who suffers from dementia, is one of the most recent members of “Info.cuidador”, a project promoted by the Humanitarian Center of Tavira of the Portuguese Red Cross, which aims to provide support and advice to caregivers. Algarve informal communities, through new technologies.

Seeing her life «only dedicated to taking care of her husband», Virgínia, who does not like to be called a “owner”, found out about the “Info.cuidador” project and «she immediately wanted to be part of it», she tells the Sul Informação.

Making herself heard through a video call, Virgínia reveals that «the conversations I have with the psychologist have helped a lot with my mental health», but also «the other supports and features that the project has, have already made my life easier».

In full operation since August, “Info.cuidador” is based “on the implementation of an online service” that tries to “reduce the emotional burden of the caregiver, as far as possible, in a close way, through technologies”, he explains. Andréia Dores, psychologist and project coordinator.

Focusing on the four municipalities covered by the Humanitarian Center (Alcoutim, Castro Marim, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António), the initiative «already has 17 integrated caregivers», but the objective is «to reach 25 per municipality», a «goal great that we believe is attainable».

This is a social innovation project, co-financed by CRESC Algarve 2020, Portugal 2020 and European funds.


Andréia Dores, coordinator of the “Indo.cuidador” project – Photo: Rúben Bento | Sul Informação


«In the case of Virgínia, the conversations I have are more emotional, the difficulties she feels, because behind it all is a great life story», explains Andréia Dores. But “there are caregivers and caregivers”, she emphasizes.

“Usually, people associate the caregiver with older people who take care of their partner or a bedridden person, but there is no age-related criterion. We could have, for example, a mother who takes care of her child, who is young, and who has had a problem».

The coordinator of the “Info-caregiver” guarantees that this “is not intended only for the older age group” and that “it can even be fundamental to help anyone, regardless of age”.

«Many of the caregivers, with all the work they have with the person being cared for, sometimes develop psychiatric disorders, because they are subject to scenarios of stress, anxiety, depression. And we are here to help them», highlights Andréia Dores.

To be part of the project, interested caregivers can register or be referred by other entities. They are given a psychological assessment, «to see if they are in emotional overload, an increasingly frequent reality, and what their quality of life is».

If the caregiver is overloaded, «something that I have verified in all those I have evaluated so far», it will be integrated and, in a subsequent phase, «we go to the person's house to deliver a tablets that has the application of the project, for the caregiver, and a SmartWatch, for the person being cared for'.

The application was «thought, idealized and programmed» only for this purpose and «has an area where the caregiver can immediately make a video call with one of the professionals of the project» and a section «where the vital signs of the person cared for are recorded. , collected by SmartWatch», explains the coordinator.


Photos: Rúben Bento | Sul Informação


The “Info.cuidador” has seven professionals “ready to help when needed”: nurse (24h/day), psychologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, social worker and nutritionist.

Despite a wide offer in terms of professionals, Andréia Dores points out that this is not an emergency hotline, «we do not replace 112», but rather a support and advice line «for people to have some support or clarify any doubts they may have. ».

“The caregiver is our user. Whenever he needs it, he calls us, but if he doesn't need it, the team always tries to find out and keep in close contact with the person, always providing some kind of follow-up», he emphasizes.


Manuel Marrafa – director of the Tavira Humanitarian Center – Photo: Rúben Bento | Sul Informação


The informal caregiver «is just a touch away, that is, by clicking on the application, you can get in touch with us», highlights Manuel Marrafa, director of the CVP Humanitarian Center of Tavira and one of the project's drivers. .

The Center began to see «the need for a project of this magnitude to appear in this universe» of caregivers and «we intend to create this “Info.cuidador” which I find very interesting and which, I am sure, will have a great future in the near future».

«It is essential to listen to people and there are caregivers who call us crying because we have improved their lives a little», explains Manuel Marrafa.

“Info.cuidador” also has a partnership with the National Association of Informal Caregivers and, with this collaboration, the director of the Humanitarian Center of Tavira intends “to extend the project to the rest of the country”.

Caregivers interested in joining, as long as they live in the covered municipalities, should contact the Tavira Humanitarian Center via email chtavira.infocuidador@cruz Vermelha.org.pt or the telephone number 937 101 377.


Photos: Rúben Bento | Sul Informação