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Major reforms needed to improve the quality of care for older people, says new report

17/06/2013

According to a new OECD report    sponsored by the European Commission. the fastest-growing age group are people over 80 whose number will almost triple by 2060, rising from 4.6% of the population to 12% in 2050 in the European Union.

It is estimated that up to half of them will need help to cope with their daily activities. Yet even today, families and public authorities are struggling to deliver and pay for high-quality care to elderly people with reduced physical and mental abilities,

The report "A good life in old age?" was presented at today's conference on "Preventing abuse and neglect of older persons in Europe" which marked the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day celebrated globally on 15 June. The event was organized by the European Commission and the United Nation's Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Addressing the conference, László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion stressed the need to improve the services provided to frail older people: "We need to ensure that until the very end of their lives, people live in dignity, their voice is heard and their needs are met, regardless of their social or economic background. Special efforts are required to improve the quality of care, and to ensure in particular that care preserves and strengthens the autonomy of older people as much as possible".

Most countries have legislation to prevent abuse, including:

  • encouraging public disclosure of specific cases
  • complaint mechanisms
  • ombudsman to deal with concerns.

However, the report shows that very few countries systematically measure whether long-term care is safe, effective, and meets the needs of care recipients.

To meet future demand for higher-quality care and choice by the person receiving care, governments should ensure that the necessary information on long-term care quality is available to the public. England, Finland, Germany, Ireland and some other countries do this now, allowing users to compare the quality of different care providers.

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