The Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization (WHO) will be sharpening its focus on identifying key priorities for strengthening long-term care (LTC) services in the WHO European Region. The Regional Office therefore looks forward to convening a country-driven forum on long-term care service delivery to explore and reflect on measures that are being pursued in countries to strengthen long-term care services in the WHO European Region. Vilans will participate in this LTC Forum. Further, Vilans will write a country vignette on how primary care was organised during out of office hours during the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus several shortcomings of the long-term care (LTC) sector across the countries in the WHO European Region. Users of LTC services (ie. older people, and those with underlying health conditions who require support from others), have been particularly susceptible to severe infection by COVID-19, both at home and in residential settings. The challenges are similar in many countries: siloed systems, low government expenditure on LTC, poor visibility of the interests of people with long-term conditions and a high reliance on families and unpaid care. As a consequence maintaining good oversight is often a problem, as is delivering needs-based services, keeping older people and people with disabilities safe and at home for as long as possible. Further, mobilising an empowered, competent workforce is a major challenge.
The rapidly growing demand for LTC and the low prestige and attractiveness of the sector have only exacerbated matters. Increasingly, these are a major concern in the European Region where population growth, ageing societies, and changing disease patterns are expected to drive greater demand for quality LTC services that promote health and wellbeing, active participation in society and respond in an agile manner during emergencies.
The WHO aims to hold monthly discussions and knowledge exchange from May through to December.