The EU Care Strategy is a chance to trigger rights-based change in long-term care systems


As a response to an EU consultation, AGE calls for a European Care Strategy that ensure accessible and quality care for all, better working conditions in formal long-term care and childcare, and support to informal carers.

We have contributed a policy paper to the open call for evidence by the European Commission on the future EU Care Strategy. While AGE has developed its vision on long-term care – the policy brief ‘Care should empower us throughout our lives’ – Our contribution focusses more concretely on how the EU can implement the principles of a rights-based approach. This will help the EU achieving its targets under the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Concretely, we call for the following elements to be included into the EU Care Strategy:

  • A rights-based approach: it should be clear that the Strategy should support the individual rights to independence and autonomy. A particular attention should be paid to fight discrimination in the access to care, such as barriers linked to disability, income, rural or urban place of living or any other criteria
  • Choice: persons in need for care must be able to choose the form of care they wants to receive (home care, community-based, residential), and informal carers must have the choice to provide unpaid, informal care or rely on paid care services
  • Social protection for long-term care risks: everyone should have access to long-term care, regardless of their financial resources. This means that only an approach providing funding for care from social protection based on universality can enable all of us to access care
  • Long-term care as a setting to live and strive: long-term care must help people to fulfil all their human rights, rather than focusing on letting people live in with a chronic disease or disability. All forms of care require active measures to include persons in need of care into society
  • Prevention of long-term care needs: public policies need to be revised to maintain autonomy and independence. For instance through accessible and age-friendly environments, measures to promote healthy lifestyles and to give access to preventive health care to all
  • Mainstream palliative care: too often, palliative care is understood as treating pain in the final phases of a disease. However, it has the potential to greatly improve quality of life if mainstreamed in the treatment and care received for a longer-term condition early on
  • Invest and improve working conditions in long-term care: EU regulations on wage, working hours and occupational health and safety should be used and improved to upgrade working conditions and ensure staff continuity in long-term care. In addition, investment – including from EU funds – is needed, to ensure all forms of care are available to everyone in need for care
  • Measure quality and accessibility: the Care Strategy should set quality standards and indicators for the accessibility of long-term care, based on its outcomes (improvement of the well-being of persons in need for care, healthy life expectancy, unmet needs for long-term care)
  • Prevent elder abuse: fighting elder abuse must be an explicit aim of the care strategy, including by training, improving working conditions and access to helplines, independent support and redress
  • The Care Strategy should build a governance framework: member States must regularly review their progress in implementing the care strategy, receive recommendations and funding to foster progress

We are in contact with the European Commission, the European Parliament and its civil society partners to find ways to implement these principles. We are convinced that the EU Care Strategy is an important, not to say vital, step forward. Given the challenges of today’s care systems and the experience of the pandemic, we need a strong ambition to trigger positive change in the care sector.

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For further information, you may contact Philippe Seidel:

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