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The European Social Network (ESN) welcomes the European Commission’s initiative to develop a European Care Strategy, which will hopefully respond to the challenges of ageing and rising care needs. Ensuring people’s access to quality and affordable care throughout their lives should be the common aim of the strategy, which will require a coordinated and joint effort between public authorities at all levels and non-public providers.

Public authorities with responsibility for social services, for instance, day care, residential and home care, will be key partners in the implementation of this strategy. Based on ESN’s 30 years’ experience in promoting people’s access to quality social care we propose several recommendations for a comprehensive European Care Strategy.

The future European Care Strategy should:

  • Be based on the following key principles: community, home and family-based care throughout people’s lives, person-centred and rights-based, promoting quality of life in an integrated manner, involving the person in every stage of their care.
  • Ensure quality of care which is focused on improving people’s quality of life, being responsive to questions of effectiveness and performance; whilst promoting availability and coverage.
  • Investment in social services focused on promoting community, home and family-based care across all life stages in line with UN and international principles.
  • Integrated service delivery, including improved interservice communication, interprofessional and cross-service collaboration, increased joint funding, planning, commissioning and service delivery.
  • Supporting the social services workforce through programmes reinforcing training, recruitment, retention, and development of the care workforce.
  • Providing support for informal carers including respite services and safeguards against experiencing poverty.
  • Having in place measurable indicators and monitoring mechanisms which assess the system as a whole, as per our proposal for the REC index assessing rights, economic investments and services coverage, as well as individual care programmes through a recast of the European social services quality framework.

Bringing it all together, the European Care Strategy should:

  • Reinforce the resilience of care services by fostering more agile, digital and remote ways of working.
  • Ensure implementation in partnership with local and regional public social services, as they are key partners for implementation.
  • Propose a Care Guarantee for all that promotes the delivery of quality care for everyone, which in turn will support current European initiatives on children, youth, disability and older people.

We are looking forward to working with the European Commission on the development and most importantly the realisation of the European Care Strategy where it matters most - close to people and local communities across Europe.

You can read ESN’s recommendations in full here.