Transforming Long-term Care in Europe: Improving Quality and Ensuring Access

28 gennaio, Bruxelles

22/01/2014

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 financing schemes.

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.

Delegates will:

  • 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 opportunities
  • Share best practices on alternatives to formal care and consider better support for families and friends

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