Joint Statement. Brussels, 30th October 2023.
On the first UN International Day of Care and Support,
17 European organisations call for urgent measures to address underinvestment and staff shortages in long-term care.
The first UN International Day of Care and Support is a welcome initiative that marks a positive development in the recognition of the vital importance of care and of those who provide it in our societies. We hope that the welcome momentum generated by the UN International Day of Care and Support will catalyse and inspire substantive actions across the European Union.
According to the 2022 EURES Report on labour shortages and surpluses, there are critical shortages in health and social care occupations across many, if not all, European countries. Everywhere, organisations have been raising the alarm about the shortage of care services, professional care staff, insufficient support to informal carers, and the dangerous and immediate consequences for the entire society.
At the EU level, the European Care Strategy paves the way for the transformation of the sector and the creation of a person-centred, community-based care and support system. It lays the foundation for a system that will respect the rights and dignity of persons in need of care and support, and their families as well as carers, both professional and informal. This strategy needs to be fully and adequately transposed to address EU Member States’ realities through ambitious national measures to be submitted to the European Commission by June 2024. These must present concrete actions to address qualified professional care staff shortages.
Understaffing and underinvestment in care are nothing new. Underneath remains the issues of ableism and ageism and other discriminations based on gender stereotypes, migration or residence status, and other grounds of discrimination that affect both care receivers and caregivers.
Care is still considered a woman’s duty, with 44% of Europeans thinking that the most important role of a woman is to take care of her home and family. This leads to women absorbing 90% of the paid care staff jobs, which are undervalued, low paid, precarious and with little to no career advancement or development. The scale of the problem has grown incrementally of late, notably due to the COVID-19 and cost-of-living crises.Finding competent, well-trained and stable staff remains a challenge in every country of the region. This has consequences on all persons working in the sector with too many dealing with poor working and occupational health and safety, leading to burnout, stress and anxiety, further deteriorating mental health, third-party violence and low staff retention for service providers.
On this day, the undersigned organisations call on all stakeholders to invest in the transition to community-based, person-centred high-quality, affordable and accessible long-term care systems. We call namely on:
Member States to:
The European Commission to boost implementation of the European Care Strategy, namely by:
The EU parliament to:
10 years of commitment and advocacy