Strengthening integrated long-term care provision in the European region

A high degree of variability characterises the organisation, delivery and financing of long-term care in the WHO European Region. Despite this diversity, a common set of challenges, rendered more acute by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasingly are emerging as key priorities for health and social policy agendas.

To share information and discuss ways to turn these common challenges into opportunities, European healthcare experts came together for a wide-ranging and engaging discussion at a recent WHO Regional Consultation on Strengthening Integrated Long-term Care Provision in the European Region. The aim was to support the development of national agendas and priority intervention areas for strengthening integrated long-term care services in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on behalf of the Netherlands, Vilans CEO Mirella Minkman said although the country has a well developed long-term care system with various structures and facilities in place to support formal and informal care, much remains to be done.

Challenges for the future include reallocating care to the most appropriate levels, endorsing a broader perspective of health that includes features like housing and social care, recognizing that needs for care are not always health-oriented but may be more social in nature (such as actions to combat loneliness), and focusing on providing health care in people’s homes and communities.”

Prof. Mirella Minkman, Vilans Chair and CEO.

Greater coherence

As is the case in many European countries, the population of the Netherlands is ageing, and while most people over 75 live in their own homes, the need for residential care is growing just at a time when human and financial resources are becoming scarcer. This, says Prof. Minkman raises the need for greater coherence in support for informal carers.

In addition to hearing the experiences of the various Member States, the virtual session also provided opportunity for discussion on identifying priority areas for technical support and a presentation of WHO tools and resources on integrated delivery of long-term care.

In April 2022, Vilans joined the WHO’s forum on Long-Term Care which brings together experts from a range of organisations and academic institutions for a country-driven, cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach to long-term care service delivery. The group will explore and reflect on measures that are being pursued in countries to strengthen long-term care services in the WHO European Region.

Read the report: WHO regional consultation on strengthening integrated long-term care provision.

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