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Eurocarers, the European Association working for and with informal carers, warmly welcomes the European Commission’s call for further investment by member states in fully-fleshed and accessible health and long-term care services as well as its suggestion to credit care duties in pension systems, as part of the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) 2017.
“Care services are not only essential to respond to the demographic challenge facing Europe, they are also crucial to ensure that care obligations towards dependent relatives do not hinder carers’ ability to live an active and rewarding life. This AGS is not only important in the context of the EU’s annual cycle of economic policy guidance, it is also a reminder that care systems form part of the building blocks of a socially cohesive and inclusive Europe” said Stecy Yghemonos, Eurocarers Executive Director.
According to recent research, informal carers across the EU provide over 80% of all care, with women providing approximately two thirds of care. Estimates also suggest that the economic value of unpaid informal care - as a percentage of the overall cost of formal long-term care provision - in EU Member States ranges from 50 % to 90 %. Carers are therefore an inherent as well as an indispensable part of the provision, organisation and sustainability of health and social care systems in Europe. Nevertheless, caring can have – if not adequately supported - challenging consequences for carers. It can lead to difficulties in balancing paid work and care responsibilities, it can impact on their physical and mental health, and it can generate financial difficulties and poverty, due to cut backs in social provision and direct costs of care. Advances in medicine also mean that carers find themselves having to deliver more and more sophisticated levels of care, with very little training and minimal support.
“All Member States are facing similar challenges in terms of long-term care provision, both with respect to the development and implementation of effective care provision models as well as in relation to financial sustainability. While care provision differs greatly between - and sometimes within - Member States, it is clear that all countries need the resource provided by informal carers to prevent a collapse of the entire care system. Addressing future challenges in long term care therefore not only requires a more comprehensive and resolute approach on the formal provision of people-centred care services and its financing, policies focusing on the wellbeing, employment and empowerment of carers should also be supported and further developed. Eurocarers will continue to work at EU, national and regional levels to inform the decision-making process in these fields and to disseminate information on the situation of carers.” added Stecy Yghemonos.