Under the presidency of Estonia, which came to an end in December 2017, the Council of the European Union, where all 28 national ministers meet, came up last 7 December 2017 with Conclusions on “Enhancing Community-Based Support and Care for Independent Living” (here you can consult and explanation of what Council Conclusions are).
The Conclusions build on recent discussions around community-based care at European level, including during the “DI = Dignity + Independent Living” conference organised by the Estonian presidency in Tallinn last 12-13 October. It is an important policy document to orientate reforms in this field in the coming years across the European Union.
Choice and rights to community and independent living
The Conclusions call on ensuring that “everyone has the right to live independently within their community, to play an active part in society and to take part in decisions concerning their lives”. They also state that “the choice of care setting should be an autonomous decision of the individual that ought to be respected”. AGE is glad to see these elements in the conclusions, as both the universal right to independent living, regardless of age, physical or mental impairment and any other personal circumstance, and the individual choice of care setting are key elements of AGE’s position.
Ensuring access to quality personalised care for all
The document also calls on developing affordable and quality alternatives to residential care before reducing their numbers. The Council also asks to “support residents’ autonomy, provide high-quality personalised care and cater in particular for the needs of dependent persons for whom community care is not the preferred option” and calls on ensuring “safety, dignity and a non-discriminatory environment in all care settings”.
The Council furthermore includes references to the importance of informal caregiving and the need to support informal carers, the role of innovation – not only technological – in supporting community-based care, and the importance of European funds to encourage the transition to community-based care. It recommends addressing “employment and skills needs within the care services sector”, including “retraining and upskilling for specialists working in residential care institutions as well as appropriate training for caregivers providing support and care outside institutions”. It also calls on the Social Protection Committee to “explore the possibility of developing appropriate common indicators for the availability, affordability and quality of long-term care provision in different forms of care”.
The document is very much in line with AGE’s positions, as reflected in our press release published last 13 October 2017. It calls on moving towards forms of home-based care while ensuring that autonomy and independent living can apply across the spectrum of care services, including residential care. AGE very much looks forward to assisting the European institutions and EU countries alike to implement the recommendations in the conclusions, by supporting the development of care services for older persons that are respectful of their dignity and ensure their right to both independent and community living.
For more information you may contact Borja Arrue, AGE’s Project and Policy Officer responsible for long-term care and elder abuse, firstname.lastname@example.org