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Care for the aged at risk of marginalization (CARMA)

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The meaning of marginalisation

Marginalisation of vulnerable members of society can instigate the devaluation of their status in society. European researchers have thrown fresh light on the meaning of social exclusion to form a platform for further studies in order to prevent this process.


Demographic changes within the EU pose a constant and dynamic challenge to policy makers involved in the social and economic welfare of Europe. Not least is the situation with regard to the growing population of elderly and the inherent problems that lack of management of the situation may cause. The European funded project CARMA set its main objective as the enhancement of the welfare within the advanced ageing population as a whole. As an integral part of this study, project partners at the Social Science Research Centre in Berlin focused on the study of marginalisation in the elderly. They also reported on changes in the care structure for this sector of the population. The results of the research were divided into two important categories. Firstly, the definition of marginalisation was looked at closely to produce a comprehensive description of the process involved in the social exclusion mechanism. Variables relating to the development of the status of old age were studied on three levels - individually, within the family and globally in society. The team found that once the definitions were in place, there was a platform on which to base further research methods and findings. Overall, the study revealed the predisposition of migrant workers to the social exclusion process and how socio-economic class was an important factor. Equally important, the isolation and the plight of the informal carer were highlighted. As a second strand of research, the development of approaches to care of the elderly was evaluated in terms of accessibility, availability and affordability. The extent of integration of informal and formal care was also assessed. The report found that novel means of care funding had been introduced that did indeed address the fundamental levels of elderly care. However, limitations in funding and fragmented services were found to be a potential source of arrested development of the elderly care structure. The unique combination of different research tactics and topics that address an all too often neglected topic formed the basis of the success of this report. Details of the results have been disseminated to policy makers and carers at all levels. Moreover, the findings can continue to be used as a basis for further research and as a means of comparison of care systems between countries in Europe.

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