High-quality long-term care is set to rise

The excessive mortality rates during this pandemic crisis have revealed structural and systemic problems in the nursing home care model. In addition, the rise in life expectancy and the consequent increase in the number of older persons in the years to come point to the need to reform the care model.

How to guarantee improved accessibility, affordability and quality of care, as well as an adequate number of care workers with improved working conditions, are among the key challenges identified during the EESC hearing "Towards a new care model for the elderly: learning from the COVID-19 pandemic".  Input from this hearing will feed into an own-initiative opinion the Committee is preparing on the topic.

The rapporteur of the opinion, Miguel Ángel Cabra de Luna, said: "this opinion is not meant to be a comprehensive approach to ageing, but to focus on the issue of care for older people as they have been the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic".

During the hearing, healthcare models from Member States were presented, showcasing the different approaches and difficulties due to the pandemic.

According to the 2021 long-term care report prepared by the Commission and the Social Protection Committee, population ageing is expected to lead to a clear increase in demand for long-term care. The number of people aged 65 or over is projected to rise by 41%, to 130.1 million over the next 30 years.

Maciej Kucharczyk, secretary-general of the AGE Platform Europe, said: "developing good care systems is an opportunity and services are the means to support people's autonomy, independence and quality of life".

Tuscany Bell, from the European Public Service Union (EPSU), said: "in order to provide an adequate service for people in need of care, we need appropriate working conditions and a sufficient level of qualified personnel. Actually, an insufficient number of care workers care for too many people".

As active ageing has a crosscutting nature and touches upon economic and social policies, coordination between social and health services is needed, making LTC more accessible, allowing older people to enjoy a life of dignity. (at)