With an ageing population and growing costs,
ensuring and improving the quality of long-term care (LTC) services has become
an important policy priority across OECD countries. According to the recent OECD
and European Commission Health Policy Study: A Good Life in Old Age?
Monitoring and Improving Quality in Long-term Care (June 2013),
the fastest-growing age group are people over 80, whose number will almost
triple by 2060, rising from 4.6% of the EU population to 12% in 2050, resulting
in an increased demand for long-term care. It is estimated that nearly 6% of
those over 80 will need help to cope with their daily activities, however, even
today families and public authorities struggle to deliver and pay for
high-quality care for elderly people with reduced capabilities.
The report suggests that very few countries
systematically measure whether long-term care is safe, effective, of a
high-quality and meeting the needs of care recipients. LTC quality measurement
lags behind developments in health care. Only a few OECD countries have
well-established information systems for care quality. While the collection of
LTC quality data poses a number of challenges, there is a potential for
harmonising data collection on LTC quality at the international level.
The most common policy approach to safeguard and
control quality focuses on setting minimum acceptable standards and then
enforcing compliance. In two-thirds of the OECD countries reviewed,
certification or accreditation of facilities is either compulsory, a condition
for reimbursement, or common practice. Furthermore, the EU should assist in
coordinating Member States’ LTC policies, which vary considerably across
countries. Such coordination may involve equal access to services, inclusion
policies, and improvement of the quality of care, as well as sustainable
Public financing in LTC varies widely across
Member States and alternatives to formal care (such as informal care or
home-based care) could be a solution to the increasing demand for LTC in Europe.
The lack of care professionals in Europe is another challenge to address through
better cooperation between social and health services, more attractive offers
for care workers as well as adapted training programmes.
Following the EU-funded project ANCIEN and the
Council’s guidelines for the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing, this timely
international symposium provides an invaluable opportunity to explore how
coordination between Member States can be strengthened to implement a
sustainable plan for long-term care. Delegates will discuss how data collection,
financing opportunities, quality of care and jobs in the sector can be improved
to provide better long-term care across Europe.
- Discuss the successes and failures of long-term care in Europe
- Examine existing European standards for long-term care services and the EU
framework for coordinating Member States’ actions
- Assess the costs of long-term care at national level and the financing
- Share best practices on alternatives to formal care and consider better
support for families and friends