COFACE-Disability requires improved support for those needing care but it also believes that family carers, who give their time (sometimes for want of any alternative) and help free of charge, must be given recognition through a certain number of rights. These rights should also enable them to make an informed choice on caring arrangements, in agreement with the care-needer and preserve the quality of family life.
A family carer is therefore a person, women or men, who is not a professional caregiver but by default or choice cares for a dependent person in his/her immediate circle.
The European Charter for Family Carers is one of the main outputs of COFACE-Disability
. It is designed as a reference tool that can be used by many organisations representing persons with disabilities and /or complex support needs and their families within the European Union, and is also aimed at the European Union’s institutions. It contributes to reconcile family and working life by allowing an informed choice by the carer.
The Charter deals directly with all aspects pertaining to the life of persons with disabilities and their families. Meeting the needs of family carers irrespective of the cause of the dependency of the person that is being cared for (age, illness, accident, etc.) through targeted measures contributes to the quality of care and helps preserve a qualitative family life. This is done by safeguarding the physical and mental health of carers, strengthening the family ties between carers and the dependent person, preventing financial impoverishment and enabling family carers to comply with the demands of both their family and working lives simultaneously.
The issue of siblings and dependency
is a complex quality-of-life issue for persons with care needs and their families. This first stands true during childhood, as, whether all come to terms with it easily, or some less easily, a child’s disability dramatically changes a family’s life, and has a profound effect on the development of the sib group members. Then, in adult life, the brothers and sisters of a person with care needs (whether due to disability or to another cause) may very often have caring demands placed on them, often because of the lack of public solidarity, whereas this is not in the nature of things for siblings.
Active ageing for family carers
: Rapid and steady population ageing in the great majority of European countries is confronting their social security and long-term care systems with new challenges and opportunities. Medical advances and support services have also increased the life expectancy of people with disabilities (especially those with learning difficulties). Extraordinary progress though it may be, this will effectively increase the role of carers both in length and in volume of family care needed. This phenomenon will be particularly intense if ageing is not accompanied by an increased healthy life expectancy both for the person in need of care and the carer.
Published on 29 May 2007
Updated on 19 Mar 2012