Reducing inequalities by investing in health-promoting care
- The problem: Our care systems are not equipped to cope with the growing demand for care and offer unequal access to formal care.
- Why Issues: Our current systems often exacerbate the inequalities faced by those who provide and those who need care, and may not be able to provide care to everyone who needs it in the future.
- The road ahead: New models of care "health promotion" use resources more effectively by promoting the health and well-being of those who receive and provide care.
- Reviewing care to meet increasing demands, protect the wellbeing of providers and promote a welfare economy
People expect their governments to provide high quality and easily accessible care. However, There are differences in how care is organised and how care and service providers interact with each other across the EU.
The demand for care is increasing due to, among other things, rising levels of chronic diseases and an ageing society. Our care systems may not have the financial means or human resources to provide it to all those who need it in the future.
What do we mean by 'care'?
We refer to 'care' as the full range of activities that enable people who need support to live as independently as possible and to participate actively in society. This care can be formal (professional) or informal (unpaid and/or without social protection).
Current approaches to care often maintain and exacerbate inequalities
Carers tend to be poorly paid and work in difficult conditions. When a relative needs care, they often have to leave a paid job to provide informal care (unpaid and/or without social protection).
Those who provide care services tend to be women. The gender inequalities they face often intersect with other inequalities, such as those related to living in poverty or having an immigrant background or disability.
Inequalities also exist in access to care. Vulnerable groups, such as those living in poverty, refugees and underserved minorities, often face more poor health conditions throughout their lives. In turn, they often require more care.
They also often face barriers when seeking formal care services. Subsequently, they may not speak the language or be unable to afford formal care. As a result, their loved ones often resort to informal care.
Models of care that promote health
Many new visions and models for care delivery could create more efficient use of resources. That is, this would improve the quality of life for those who receive and provide care, which helps to address the inequalities often perpetuated by care systems.
The best the concept of health promotion, defined as 'the process that enables people to increase control and improve their health‘, is at the heart of such approaches.
Caring as an investment for a Prosperous Economy
Health-promoting models of care can help reducing poverty, social exclusion and loneliness. By improving health and well-being, contributing to sustainable development, they prioritise well-being.
These models allow informal carers, older people and those living with chronic illnesses or disabilities to become socially engaged and economically active, paving the way for a Prosperity Economy.
How can EU policies, tools and programmes strengthen care?
A range of EU tools are available to help national and local governments invest in health-promoting care. These include
- The best European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), which promotes the provision of social rights across the EU.
- THE EC Green Paper on ageing, which highlights the challenges and opportunities of demographic ageing.
Roads to progress:
To make our care systems more health-promoting, we recommend the following:
- To improve indicators around care that will help monitor performance and support progress.
- Explore how health promotion services can be integrated into current models of care.
- Exchange "best practices" to strengthen cooperation between the health, social, education and training sectors.
- Explore how digital technologies can support integrated care models and benefit and optimise users' independence.
All things considered, the implementation of health promotion care must ensure that individuals have the skills to provide and adopt such approaches. EU funds can help develop such skills and strengthen health-promoting care.