NewsOct DI

Estonian presidency conference contributes to shaping future EU social policy and creating 21st century community-based support services for all

COFACE Families Europe was actively involved in the preparation and implementation of the Estonian EU Presidency conference ‘Dignity + Independent living = DI’ that took place in Tallinn on 12-13 October 2017.

The high-level conference focused on advancing discussions to accelerate the transition from institution-based care to community-based support (deinstitutionalisation, DI) in the EU Member States. The aim of the conference was to propose new approaches in the development of the concept and financing of DI and the promotion of human rights, and to support the development of the EU-wide framework of participatory social welfare policies. The outcomes of the workshops on seven important topics will feed into the draft EU Council Conclusion on deinstitutionalization that will be hopefully be adopted by the end of this year.

COFACE Families Europe was present with a delegation. Liz Gosme, Director was one of the moderators of the whole conference. Gonçalo Solla, representing Fundaçao Liga, COFACE’s Portuguese member, presented in a workshop their important work on providing integrated community-based support and social activities for older citizens. COFACE’s Policy and Advocacy Officer, Dr. Magdi Birtha spoke in a workshop about the role of families in preventing institutionalisation.

In the discourse on deinstitutionalisation, it is essential to speak about the prevention of (re)institutionalisation and measures that support persons with support needs and their family members to be fully included in society. Families play a key role in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities and can contribute to a sustainable deinstitutionalisation process. Currently, 80% of care is provided by informal carers in Europe, due to the lack of community-based social and health services. It is simply not sustainable that care responsibilities fall back upon families. The rights and choice of person with support needs and their families should be respected through providing them with financial resources, a range of accessible formal and informal community-based services and work-life balance measures.

In 2017, COFACE conducted a major data collection on the needs and challenges of family carers. We received over 1000 answers from 16 EU Member States, which provide a great overview on their situation and the most concerning challenges they face, including poverty, long-term unemployment and social exclusion. The EU, through its Cohesion Policy can support the transition from institutional to community-and family-based care.

Presentations and further information about the conference are available here

EEG position paper on the European Pillar of Social Rights available here