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EMERGENT HEALTH-CARE OCCUPATIONS & QUALITY OF LIFE: A STUDY OF THE USA, SPAIN & ITALY

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Improving quality of life for the elderly

An in-depth look at long-term care has helped develop better systems to support caregivers in their jobs and provide enhanced services for a rapidly ageing population.

Health

As the baby boomers age and the European population becomes a more dependent one, policymakers are looking for ways to support long-term care. The EU-funded project 'Emergent health-care occupations & quality of life: A study of the USA, Spain & Italy' (EHCO & QOL) investigated this phenomenon in three countries. It looked at how care-related jobs, technologies and organisations are evolving to identify synergies and challenges related to the topic. To achieve its aims, the project team studied the diversity in care services between the EU and the United States, looking at cultural dimensions that impact organisational structure. It outlined the different definitions of quality of life (QOL) and conducted in-depth interviews to understand communication and coordination among care professionals, family members, interest groups and other stakeholders. More specifically, the project developed a comprehensive, novel approach to understanding QOL and outlined caregivers' roles in a way that reinforces their ability to provide quality care. It also assessed how job stability in the health and long-term care field evolved in Europe, looking as well at technology and collaboration in the field. This led to better research on care occupations and the dynamics of direct care organisations that provide services to the elderly. It helped support the development of policies on human capital in a field where job demand is expected to increase rapidly, advancing the career prospects of employees in the sector. A strong cross-comparison of long-term care between both sides of the Atlantic can potentially lead to improvements in providing quality care to the elderly, pinpointing best practices in different systems. This will help our population age more gracefully and with more dignity, improving QOL, reducing suffering and promoting cost effectiveness in the field.

Keywords

Quality of life, elderly, caregiver, ageing, care services, organisational structure

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