Keywordscommunities of practice
Subject categories::Social Sciences
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AbstractThis article describes an innovative practice called Blended Learning Networks (BLNs) whose aim is to enable older people, their families, and care providers to exchange knowledge, learn together, and support each other in local development work so that care is improved for older people. BLNs were established in 31 municipalities, headed up by a local facilitator. They were supported by a national themed network consisting of virtual meetings between local facilitators and national facilitators at the Swedish National Family Care Competence Centre. Design and Methods: An evaluation was conducted to explore the utility of the BLNs so that any improvements to the model could be instigated. Focus group interviews were conducted with members of 9 BLNs, and self-evaluation questions were discussed in 16 BLNs. Limitations are that not all BLN members participated in the evaluation, and local facilitators conducting self-evaluations were not trained in focus group dynamics. Virtual focus groups were carried out with 26 of the 31 local facilitators and with the national facilitators. Results: Participants reported an increased understanding of caregiver issues and of each group's roles. Of particular value were the stories shared by caregivers and the potential for change locally due to the involvement of decision makers. The practice demanded considerable skills of the local facilitators. An initial education for new local facilitators was deemed necessary. Implications: BLNs is a unique practice of community communications and knowledge transfer as it creates partnerships among all key stakeholder groups that act as a catalyst for improving care for older people.