Analysis: Cross-Atlantic exchange to advance long-term care

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This CEPS paper looks at recent developments in the EU and US regarding the provision of high-quality, affordable long-term care (LTC) for older people.

The authors outline the fact that growing numbers of older people and extended longevity in the EU and US have resulted in LTC becoming an increasingly pressing issue. As major payers for LTC services and regulators for quality of care, governments are grappling with how to fund and deliver these services so that people can age with independence, dignity and quality of life.

In the EU, member states and the European Union have committed, through the Open Method of Co-ordination on Social Protection, to ensure universal access to quality LTC in a financially sustainable manner, recognising that policy responsibility is with the EU member states.

This background paper begins with a discussion of the overall goal of promoting healthy and active ageing. It highlights the fact that the world’s population is ageing rapidly and with the exception of Japan, the world’s 25 oldest countries are all in Europe. However, the need for LTC services is not dependent on age alone; people with limitations in self-care or mobility, seniors living alone and on low income are also important indicators. Taking this into account, the overall proportion of older people in need of LTC is found to be approximately the same in the US and the EU. 

The following three sections of the paper provide a brief overview of the main goals for LTC in the EU and US, including:

  • Promoting ‘active ageing’; that is, allowing people to realise their potential for physical, social and mental well-being throughout the course of their lives, notably in older ages;
  • enhancing independence by receiving care at home and in the community as much as possible;
  • identifying sources of quality LTC services, including supporting family caregivers, promoting consumer-directed approaches to services, and developing the capacity of the LTC workforce, and;
  • ensuring sustainable financing of LTC systems.

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