At a recent hearing of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), we insisted on the important role of adequate and available care services to support older people’s autonomy and participation in society. This should be the overall goal of the European Care Strategy.
The aim of the EESC hearing that took place on 27 October was to gather input from other EU Institutions and civil society organisations in order to prepare an EESC own-initiative opinion.
The event examined in particular:
- the structural causes that have led to the dramatic consequence of the pandemic in the care systems for older people,
- the strengths and weaknesses of the various care models in the EU
- the civil society perspective and proposals for a new care model for older people.
Maciej Kucharczyk, AGE Secretary General, was invited to share AGE’s perspective on care for older people.
Losing autonomy is only inevitable if we lack access to care and support
We welcomed the draft opinion proposed by the EESC as it recognizes the importance of care for older people as a policy priority and identifies in a comprehensive way the key actions that are needed. In this opinion, the EESC calls for an ambitious European Care Strategy drafted with the meaningful participation of our organisation and civil society overall.
Yet, unlike the draft opinion suggests, “losing autonomy is not inherent to older age. We can all preserve our autonomy across our lives if we are able to access enough care and support”, stressed our Secretary-General at the hearing. Adequate and available care and support can help everyone preserve his/her autonomy and enable their full participation and contributions to social, economic and cultural life.
Challenges are known, it is now time for action
“Knowing the challenges facing our care systems, this is not surprising that care for older people was so hardly hit by the pandemic”, pointed out AGE Secretary-General.
Lack of access, unaffordability, quality issues, difficult working conditions for care staff and over-reliance on informal carers. The many challenges were highlighted at the recent joint European Commission – Social Protection Committee (SPC), whose conclusions were endorsed by the Council. It is now time for this analyses to translate into real political commitment and achieve concrete change.
“Care that allows us to live our lives to the fullest should be the goal of the European Care Strategy. Many people are afraid of ageing because they do not have access to or cannot afford care that empowers, respects our dignity and enhances participation”
Maciej Kucharczyk, AGE Secretary-General
The European Care Strategy is a key opportunity to create a new, ambitious framework for care for older people in Europe. We are asking the European Commission to put people in need of care at the centre of this strategy to avoid the mistakes of the past. This strategy should aim at the full integration between health and social care, with a focus on home and community-based care and on prevention and rehabilitation.
“Although the EU does not have a strong competence in care, it does have a strong potential to set the tone”, reminded AGE Secretary-General.