Older people are not the only people in need of long-term care (LTC), but in terms of numbers, they represent the greatest need. As more people live longer, the demand for LTC in Europe is expected to increase significantly. Paying for and providing quality care will be important challenges as the proportion of the population over 80 years old more than doubles in the EU over the next 50 years.
In the European Union, Member States have different models for providing LTC. However all are committed to universal access and the provision of high quality LTC. Each of them faces many similar challenges in financing and providing equitable access to LTC.
Making use of informal care, favouring home-based over institutional care where possible, and ensuring adequate numbers of qualified care-givers are all significant challenges. Prevention and rehabilitation programmes, the use of information and communication technologies and better service coordination between different health and social programmes and providers can also help to reduce costs and ensure quality care in the future.
While Member States are responsible for LTC, the EU has a role to play in coordinating policies and encouraging sharing of best practices.