New Report Highlights Relationship-Based Home Care as a Sustainable Solution for Europe’s Looming Elder Care Crisis

Global Coalition on Aging calls on leaders across Europe to address its growing and increasingly complex care needs through person-centred, outcomes-driven home care

GENEVA (6 June 2018) – Today, the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) released a groundbreaking report, titled Relationship-Based Home Care: A Sustainable Solution for Europe’s Elder Care Crisis. The report examines the growing and increasingly complex care challenges facing Europe due to rapid ageing across the continent. The report explores how relationship-based home care can enable ongoing delivery of high-quality, person-centred, and outcomes-based care to older adults that improves lives while bending the healthcare cost curves exploding across Europe. The report proposes a set of policy actions to support the integration of this innovative form of care into European health and care systems.

“Relationship-based home care offers a sustainable solution for the growing care needs across Europe and represents the highest-quality care in the home that we can offer our seniors,” said Michael W. Hodin, PhD, CEO, GCOA. “This highly personalized type of care creates benefits not only for older adults and their families, but also for our health and care systems, governments, and society as a whole. Our report highlights ways that policy-makers, business, and third-sector organizations can work together to help Europe spend smarter on long-term care as the needs of an ageing Europe skyrocket.”

Europe, like many other regions around the globe, is in the midst of a massive demographic shift. The number of Europeans who are age 60 or older is projected to increase nearly 50% between 2012 and 2050, and those over 80 years old will more than double during that time. With more seniors living longer – and more living with conditions that impact their ability to live independently, such as heart failure, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia – long-term care costs will be unsustainable.

At the same time, Europe faces a shortfall of qualified carers. Today, about 60% of care in the EU is provided by informal carers, and the ranks of professional carers are not growing fast enough to meet the growing need.

“Systems across Europe and around the world must change if we are to address the mounting care crisis and continue caring for our ageing loved ones the way they should be cared for,” said Prof. Lefkos Middleton, Chair of Neuroepidemiology and Ageing Research, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, and Chair, EIT Health CARE CAMPUS Consortium. “We can no longer afford to rely primarily on daughters and sons to fill this gap; we need new and better care options and a trained and compassionate workforce to deliver that care. CARE CAMPUS is pleased to be a partner with the Global Coalition on Aging to issue this wake-up call to leaders across Europe, and globally.”

The findings in the report – drawn from publicly available data and interviews with health and care experts across Europe – shed light on how the integration of relationship-based home care in health and care systems can bring value across society through wide-ranging benefits such as reduced care costs, better care coordination, better care for people living with dementia, better outcomes to seniors, reduced burden on families, and increased employment opportunities, among many others.

The report calls on leaders throughout Europe to expand the capacity to provide high-quality care to seniors by addressing barriers to relationship-based home care in their countries. The report urges Europe’s policy-makers to:

Build a body of evidence that quantifies the value of relationship-based home care, and make it a standard offering within the care ecosystem.

  • Support outcomes-based research on the merits of relationship-based home care compared to task-based home care
  • Establish person-centred, outcomes-driven standards for care
  • Integrate relationship-based care as a central part of the care ecosystem

Make a highly skilled caregiving workforce the heart of the solution.

  • Promote caregiving as a promising, fulfilling career opportunity
  • Provide professional training for carers
  • Adopt standards that raise the bar for caregiving across the industry
  • Invest in the current and future caregiving workforce to ensure the supply of carers keeps pace with the demand

Invest in high-quality care as a solution for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

  • Recognize the value of Alzheimer’s care in the home
  • Promote continuity of care for those living with Alzheimer’s
  • Increase investments in high-quality, person-centred care for those with Alzheimer’s commensurate with investments in biomedical research

“As care in the home becomes more common and more desired for older Europeans, care systems must adapt to deliver care that promotes prevention and wellness, maintains functional ability, and mitigates costs,” said Mario Ottiglio, President, Europe, GCOA. “Our health and social care systems must integrate relationship-based home care as a core component of the care ecosystem because care based on a checklist of tasks alone will not be able to deliver that quality. We look forward to working with leaders across Europe to enhance care models and improve the lives of seniors and their families, health systems, and society.”

To view the report, click here.

To view the infographic, click here.

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