On 11 June 2020 we sent a letter to Vice-President Šuica and Commissioners Schmit and Kyriakides stressing the need for further EU action to be taken in the field of long-term care for older persons during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
We explain in our letter how the challenges faced by older people in need of care during the pandemic have revealed deeply rooted structural problems which require urgent and long-term coordinated EU and national action.
“With the forecasted doubling of persons aged 80 and over, citizens of all ages expect measures to be implemented to ensure access to quality long-term care and support for older persons with care needs. In a rapidly ageing Europe, this should be one the key policy priorities, given the direct impact this demographic trend has and will have on the lives of millions of older persons in need of care as well on those who provide care for them: professional and informal carers, the vast majority of whom are women.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is showing more clearly than ever the enduring failures of the long-term care sector in Europe. To address them, we ask the European Commission to support member states’ reforms to ensure that sustainable, adequate, accessible and person-centred long-term care services will be achieved across the EU.
In particular, we call for :
- Ensuring that long-term care is included within the key priorities in the implementation of the immediate and longer-term financing instruments proposed by the Commission, including the future European Social Fund+ and the new ambitious EU4Health Programme. These instruments should include support for professional long-term care services and informal carers alike. They should also seek to develop and improve the coordination and integration of health and social care services at national level, the lack of which has been one of the major obstacles in properly managing the current crisis.
- Developing, with no delay, a plan for the implementation of principle 18 of the European Pillar of Social Rights on the right to long-term care, including community-based services, learning from the lessons of the COVID-19 crisis. This should encompass improved access to quality services – including palliative care –, recognition of care work and improved working conditions in services as well as support for informal carers, including clear protocols and training on how to deal with a pandemic.
- Enabling the implementation of principle 18 at the national level by ensuring that the European Semester builds on the Pillar and is strongly linked with the resources available in the proposed Recovery and Resilience Facility. These investments are critical to better protect the rights and dignity of older persons in need of care, as all EU member states and the EU itself committed to in a joint letter supporting United Nations Secretary General’s recent statement on COVID-19 and older persons.
- Delivering on EU-wide quality and access indicators and targets for long-term care, building on existing reporting systems and avoiding additional administrative burden, to allow for benchmarking. The European Quality Framework for the wellbeing and dignity of older persons in need of LTC, which AGE developed with partners from 12 EU member states, could be used as a tool to develop quality indicators and also for a potential European quality framework to be endorsed by the Council, as it was recently the case for childcare.
- Working with member states to enforce as soon as possible surveillance systems as recommended by the ECDC.
For more information, you may contact Borja Arrue: firstname.lastname@example.org