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The conference was a great success and we are really pleased. Both national and international delegates are full of praise and feel the conference helped to highlight carers’ issues worldwide, stated Professor Elizabeth Hanson, the Swedish Family Care Competence Centre (Nka) and Linnaeus University, regarding the Sixth International Carers Conference held in Gothenburg from 3-6 September. The theme for the conference was demographics, welfare and the role of carers.

– This was the first time the conference took place in a non-English speaking country. We are very happy and proud that Sweden gained this confidence, continues Elizabeth Hanson.

At the 6th International Carers Conference in Gothenburg, H.M. Queen Silvia received a guided tour of the exhibition hall by Professor Elizabeth Hanson, the Swedish Family Care Competence Centre, Linnaeus University and Helena Herklots, CEO, Carers UK. (Photo: Cicci Jonson) 

Speech by the Queen 

The conference was inaugurated by H.M. Queen Silvia. She stated that carers’ assistance is invaluable and that society cannot afford not to support carers. The Queen encouraged global action towards the goal of everyone having the possibility to live and age well – regardless of whether one has an illness or takes care of a loved family member.

The Swedish government was also represented at the opening. Åsa Regnér, Minister for Children, Older People and Gender Equality, emphasized that the next of kin’s assistance should be voluntary and be seen as a complement to society’s health and social care services.

Guests from afar

The international meeting drew over 630 participants from 32 different countries. Delegates came from European nations, as well as from as far afield as Australia, Japan and the United States. Over 250 plenary and themed seminars, together with workshops were held during the intensive three day conference. However, there was also time for valuable informal dialogue and networking.

Some of the world’s leading researchers and policy-makers in the field were present, such as Ralf Jacob, Head of Unit of ‘Social Protection and Activation Systems’ unit in DG Employment Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission, who spoke about social safety nets and the need for long-term care. John Dunne, President of Eurocarers, focused on the so-called “wicked problems” associated with carers’ well-being, and stated that there are no easy solutions.

Inspiring talks

Valentina Hlebec, Professor at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, talked about care for older people in eastern European countries, and the Brazilian physician, Alexandre Kalache, spoke about the ongoing longevity revolution and how this can lead to more solidarity and harmony in the world.

– The conference was like a huge international ‘smorgåsbord’ of interesting and inspiring talks, says Elizabeth Hanson.

Energy and networks

To inspire new ideas and ways of working was one of the aims of the conference, and according to Elizabeth Hanson, the goal was surpassed.

– The evaluation shows that the conference really filled participants with energy. Many delegates had the opportunity to establish and strengthen useful networks for future collaborative work in the field of carers, care and caring, she says.

The conference was arranged by the Swedish Family Care Competence Centre (Nka), Carers UK and Carers Sweden (Anhörigas Riksförbund) in collaboration with Eurocarers and the International Alliance of Carer Organizations (IACO). On the Nka website (http://www.anhoriga.se/information-in-english/) it is possible to view filmed presentations, interviews and articles as well as many mingle photos.

Lennart Magnusson, Director Nka, Ann-Marie Högberg, Carers Sweden, Deputy Mayor Åsa-Lill Törnqvist, Gothenburg City, Helena Herklots CEO, Carers UK,  Professor David Grayson, Chair of Board of Trustees, Carers UK and Elizabeth Hanson, Research Director  Nka, VP Research, Eurocarers were assembled for the Opening Conference Reception hosted by Linnaeus University

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