Eurodiaconia launched a comprehensive policy paper outlining urgent reforms that are needed in the long-term care (LTC) sector. Highlighting persistent challenges and proposing innovative solutions, the report addresses critical issues faced by Eurodiaconia’s member organizations across Europe. As Europe confronts the challenges posed by an ageing population, policymakers are compelled to develop comprehensive strategies that not only ensure the accessibility and affordability of long-term care, but also guarantee the delivery of tailored good-quality services. 

Eurodiaconia’s policy paper starts by illuminating new demands that arose due to the demographic shift, the strain on the workforce, calling attention to the shortage of caregivers and the evolving family structures impacting informal care. The paper addresses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on LTC, exposing systemic gaps in the care sector and staff shortages exacerbated by the crisis. It stresses the increasing importance of digital tools in LTC, emphasising their role in improving care quality and enabling social connectivity while also highlighting the need to address digital literacy disparities among the elderly.  Additionally, it delves into the financial strains faced by millions of Europeans, leading to an inability to afford essential LTC services, and the resultant impact on individuals’ well-being. Finally, the paper underscores the need for better coordination between health and LTC sectors. 

Moreover, the paper showcases innovative good practices within Eurodiaconia network, illustrating effective strategies adopted by its members in various European countries. These initiatives range from holistic home care projects to specialised services catering to specific needs, such as dementia care, in particular efforts in Greece, Estonia, and Germany to tackle this issue. Practices are designed to enhance care delivery and promote social inclusion and include the following: 

  • Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization’s “Home Help” project in Serbia, 
  • Germany’s “Transnational Lab” strategy, 
  • Slezská Diakonie’s Working Group for Assistive Devices, 
  • Evangelische Heimstiftung’s “QuartrBack” project in Germany, 
  • Diakonie Austria’s “Community Nurse” project, 
  • Caritas Saatio’s “DigiHelper” Project in Finland,   

The report calls for collaborative action, urging policymakers and stakeholders to invest in workforce development, expand community-based care, strengthen coordination between health and LTC policies, facilitate qualification recognition, and prioritise support for informal caregivers. It stresses that these steps are crucial to ensure the dignity, well-being, and quality of life of Europe’s ageing population while upholding human-centric care approach. 

Finally, this policy paper serves as a roadmap for policymakers, and all relevant stakeholders at Member State and European Commission levels, advocating for a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient LTC system that respects the dignity and autonomy of Europe’s ageing population.

Read the full policy paper here!