Building an index of rights-based long-term care policies

EuropeanCentre_SocialWelfareResearch_logo The European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, which played an important role in the development of the Active Ageing Index, is currently undertaking a 2-year project aiming to help build a human rights based approach to long-term care for older persons.

On October 31st in Vienna, AGE Platform Europe took part in an expert group meeting as part of the project From disability rights towards a rights-based approach to long-term care in Europe: Building an index of rights-based policies for older people”, a two-year research project (2017-2018) funded by Sweden’s Ministry for Health and Social Affairs. The main output of the project will be an index of long- term care (LTC) policies that takes a human rights approach, and which will offer the possibility of monitoring and comparing countries’ progress in ensuring older people’s rights as they relate to LTC.

Taking stock of older people’s rights in long-term care

The work of the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research is identifying areas where older people’s rights are at stake and will ultimately help to monitor the extent to which the rights of users are upheld or enforced by different countries’ long-term care policies. During the meeting the preliminary conceptual framework of older people’s rights in long-term care was presented and discussed among experts from academia, policy and civil society. In following steps the research team will develop a list of indicators, which will be shared for feedback with stakeholders involved in the development and implementation of long-term care policies, before populating the index with comparative information from several European countries.

Highlighted challenges

Experts involved in the meeting highlighted the difficulty to create a rights-based approach to LTC while there are no clear normative standards about the elements of this right and the precise thresholds with which to measure its fulfilment. Despite this challenge, the project is very timely as the discussions on how to strengthen the protection of older persons’ rights is gaining momentum thanks to the discussions in the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) and the debate around the added value of a new convention. In fact, the next session of the OEWG will discuss the normative elements of the rights to autonomy and independence and to long term and palliative care. In addition, the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research is building on the outcomes of the project of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), which identified a series of human rights violations in the provision of long-term care to older persons.

Other challenges in this work include how to ensure equal access to LTC for all older people who may need it, while taking into account the limited State resources. In addition, researchers will look into how older people’s rights interact with the rights of their caregivers and how far they are mutually supportive but also the ways in which they may be conflicting. The research team was encouraged to look into existing human rights provisions, in particular the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and to take a comprehensive approach to rights in long-term care, bearing in mind that older people who require support in their daily lives should have equal access to all the rights that everyone has, including for instance social and political participation, lifelong learning, leisure and the development of personal relations.

For more information about this project you may contact Nena Georgantzi:

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