Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

A European policy evaluation report produced by AGE " The European older people's platform" to provide an overview of the impact of EU-policies on family care of older people

This report focuses on the analysis of the impact of current EU policies on family carers of older people, identifying opportunities and barriers for a potential improvement of existing measures. AGE has gathered available documentation on the EU decision-makers perspective in relation to the existence, familiarity, availability, use and acceptability of services for family carers. To this purpose, existing data has been reviewed, starting from the experience of policies in specific public areas such as social protection systems, labour market and employment, active ageing, economic migration and social inclusion. All these sectors interact with each other and might have an indirect impact on the situation of family carers in unpredictable ways.

On of the most neglected tools to support family carers of older people in Europe may well be the lack of cooperation between different sectors, assessments on the possible (positive as well as negative) effects of certain policy decisions, and public participation. Planning in the area of family care would run short if policy makers would fail to look for ways of influencing the direction of change of unpredictable social processes.

In the review, the key lessons on how to manage change within the policy environment have been extracted from selected areas in order to understand where concrete obstacles prevent policy makers to implement research evidence. AGE enjoys close contacts with key EU policy makers., and this direct access can be used for the dissemination of the project results, as it allows for first hand information on how they would be able to be implemented and where would be the difficulties.

The policy dimension has to be closely linked to one of organisational development, as the implementation of identified recommendations, action plans or guidelines depend on the readiness of organisations (including the administration in Member States) to take them up. Key organisational issues related to the implementation of the recommendations have also been identified.

Among the suggestions formulated in this report, the following might well be considered as the most relevant:
- With the possible adoption of the OMC in the field of healthcare and care for the elderly, the Commission and Member States should dedicate a larger attention to the situation of family carers, by drafting at least a guideline pressing Member States to tackle the issue of family carers, and asking them to develop and exchange good practices on measures supporting informal carers.

- The Commission should continue integrating carers of older dependent people in its policies, and recognise the important role they play in society. The Commission should press Member States to develop measures geared to answer their needs and improve their situation.

- Family carers cannot be expected to compensate the lack of resources needed to care for an increasing number of older dependant. Caring for our elderly is a collective responsibility and sound policies must be proposed to come up with this challenge.

- To reconcile the Lisbon objective of full employment and the challenge of an ageing society, informal care involving more than 4 hours a day should be acknowledged as a form of employment and duly compensated for in terms of wages, pension rights and social protection for the informal carer. Promoting more flexible working arrangements and compensating carers for time spent providing care to a dependent person should help increase the employment rate of women and of older workers and help the EU member States respond adequately to the challenge of a rapidly ageing society.

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