Aug. 5, 2009 A new Government Green Paper, seeking views on the future funding and delivery of care and support services for older and disabled people, draws on research by the Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of York.
In two reports, SPRU researchers set out what can be learned from the experiences of other countries grappling with the same issues.
Recent reforms in countries as diverse as Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Japan and Denmark show widespread commitments to universal provision for everyone with similar levels of disability, regardless of age or income. They also show that modest increases in contributions to long-term care insurance schemes are politically feasible, as people are aware of the future benefits.
In all the countries examined, central governments play a major role in ensuring fairness. These countries have also often built policies for supporting family carers into reforms of services for older and disabled people.
Indeed, across Europe, family carers provide much more help to older and disabled people than formal health services, but in many EU countries both information about the numbers of carers and services to support them are scarce.
Professor Caroline Glendinning, who led the SPRU research, said: “Unsupported family care can adversely affect health and paid work, so employment and long-term care policies alike need to take account of the work of family carers.
“Across Europe, more research is needed into the contributions made by family carers – and the opportunity costs of those contributions. On the other hand, important principles – universal entitlements to help; equal treatment for those with similar levels of need; and contributions from working age as well as older people – underpin the policies of other countries and could be adopted in England.”
The report, Reforming Long-term Care: Recent lessons from other countries, is available as a PDF.
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