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COFACE brings voice of family carers to European discussions on long-term care

The second Flagship Conference is taking place during a very crucial time: European leaders are preparing the next EU legislature following the European elections results, negotiating, nominating and electing the future European Commission and filling in EU top jobs. All this is taking place against the backdrop of growing popular mobilisation for greater social justice and democracy, stopping and reversing an environmental crisis and securing the future for the next generations. As a member of Social Platform, a grouping of civil society organisations active in the social sector, COFACE Families Europe took a leading role with AGE Platform Europe and Eurocarers in facilitating discussions on long-term care including the role of family carers.

The workshop started with the projection of the dance film ‘Yours, my love’, based on the Ulla Tikkanen’s PhD thesis. Both the thesis and the movie are about experience and feelings of family carers and persons in need of care, in the last stages of life. After the movie, participants could exchange views with the movie director, Tiina Lindfors. They agreed on the fact that art is a powerful means to reach in the general public as it touches their emotions and triggers empathy. Music and dance are universal languages, thus the movie could be used to start a reflection on long-term care around Europe. The second part of the workshop explored the status quo on long-term care in Europe and the potential for future actions.
Here are the key messages emerging from the workshop.

Long-term care and the High-Level Conference on the Economy of Well-being
COFACE Families Europe – AGE Platform Europe – Eurocarers

Key message

People struggle to access quality long-term care services. Moreover, informal carers are providing 80% of care most times without support and care workers face very difficult working conditions.
Universal access to quality long-term care is essential to ensure the wellbeing of citizens across the lifecourse. Increasing care needs driven by ageing and declining availability of informal care make it a major challenge. The EU and member states need to adress it urgently.

Full recommendations

Caring is essential in every person’s life and long-term care is a part of it. Putting wellbeing at the centre of economic action is not only an ethical mandate but also a democratic one. EU’s legitimacy will increase if people feel that European economy is at the service of society.

Nowadays people struggle to access quality services, while informal carers are providing the 80% care, with small recognition and support. The formal care sector is unattractive, also due to the fact that it is not valued by society and professionals face difficult working conditions.
Women are the majority of the recipients, informal carers and professionals. Due to demographic change care needs will increase, while the number of informal carers will shrink.

It is therefore a political and democratic urgency to put wellbeing at the core of the EU action and in particular in long-term care.

Valuing care activities and promoting quality care is fundamental to the wellbeing of people and to address the gender gap. Safety and trust should be the basis for dignified caring relations. We need self-determination, right to choice and respect of human rights of the persons in need of care, recognition, social protection, right to choice and work-life balance for family carers, and fair working conditions in the formal care sector.

Funding of the sector is another fundamental issue, there is need to increase the overall funding and prioritise funding in ways that ensure high quality of services and self-determination of the persons in need of care.

Possible EU actions include:

  • An European Strategy on long-term care with an holistic, life-cycle approach.
  • Creating programmes to encourage Member States to invest in the carers’ human capital, skills, training and peer support.
  • Creating an European platform of good practices on long-term care.
  • Research in the field and data collection on services and quality of life of persons in need of care and informal carers.
  • Using structural funds to innovate the long-term care provision.
  • Ensuring stable, systematic and meaningful civil dialogue in the long-term care area at all levels.

 

Additional information:

 

For more information, contact Irene Bertana ibertana@coface-eu.org

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