Most countries in Europe are experiencing challenges to meet the care needs of an ageing population. In old age, people often become frail and develop multi-morbidity conditions, which cause them to need both medical care and social care on a continuous basis. Better care coordination is increasingly accepted as a precondition to the long-term sustainability of our healthcare systems.
The EU supports its Member States to face the demographic challenge through policy debates, research and initiatives in various areas. The most recent effort is the European Commission’s Blueprint –Digital transformation of health and care for the ageing society which aims to reach better quality of care for citizens, more efficient and effective health and care delivery systems and competitiveness through digital transformation.
Care and support for older people is a significant challenge for public social services considering the ageing population across Europe. Social services must consider the autonomy and inclusion of older people despite budget cuts, quality requirements, the challenges with mixed market economy of care provision, as well as workforce training and sustainability.
In this context, we have been working on ageing and care since 2008, setting up a working group that discussed care and funding choices, independent living and quality. The research project ‘Contracting for Quality’ (2009-10) assessed the complex set of relationships in long-term care in terms of funding and quality management in six EU countries. More recently, between September 2014 and October 2016, our Working Group on Ageing and Care met five times to look at the integration of health and social care services for older people, local initiatives for active ageing measures, the social care workforce, quality assurance and technological innovation.
One of the outcomes of the working group was our report ‘Investing in later life: a toolkit for social services providing care for older people’. The objective of the toolkit is to provide recommendations and examples of innovative practice for senior professionals working in social services providing care for older people.
Building our work to date, we will organise a seminar in 2020 which will bring together services managing and funding authorities, services providers and users’ organisations to explore the impact on funding, quality and service users’ choice of services in the field of long-term care. Following this exchange, we will produce a publication that will present how local public social services procure and commission services (including personal budgets) to create markets of services that promote users’ service choice for older people and their families.
European Commission (2017): Blueprint –Digital transformation of health and care for the ageing society
European Commission (2013): Commission Staff Working Document 'Long-term care in ageing societies - Challenges and policy options'
Retaining and regaining independence in later life: the role of social services (in English, Deutsch, français)
Our additional work on Ageing and Care.