Europe’s overall increase in life expectancy and ageing demographic generate a growing incidence of age-related diseases and demand for care. In Europe, 80% of all care is provided by informal carers – i.e. people who provide unpaid care to someone with a chronic illness, disability or other long-lasting health or care need, outside of a professional or formal framework. The contribution of these carers constitutes a great resource for their society but their role is not always recognised. Delivering a wide range of support services such as personal care, housekeeping, transportation, care and financial management as well as emotional support, carers often offer the most comprehensive and desirable option for people in need of care.
Caring for a loved one can be a source of great personal satisfaction but it does create its own set of challenges. These can include physical and mental health problems, a feeling of isolation, difficulty in balancing paid work with care responsibilities, perhaps even financial worries as social provisions are cut back. Advances in medicine also mean that carers find themselves having to deliver more and more sophisticated levels of care, with very little training and minimal support.
Eurocarers brings together carers' organisations as well as relevant universities & research institutes – a unique combination that enables evidence-based advocacy. Their network works to ensure that care is valued and unpaid care is recognised as central to the sustainability of health and long term care systems. They believe that carers’ know-how and needs are worth listening to and people should have the right to choose freely whether they want to be a carer, and to what extent they want to be involved in caring. Their aim is therefore to act as a voice for informal carers, irrespective of their age or the particular health need of the person they are caring for by:
-Documenting and raising awareness about the significant contribution made by carers to health and social care systems and the economy as a whole, and of the need to safeguard this contribution;
-Ensuring that EU and national policies take account of carers, i.e. promote their social inclusion, the development of support services, enable them to remain active in paid employment and maintain a social life.
They call for the development of an ambitious and comprehensive EU-level initiative that would address the various challenges facing carers throughout Europe by encouraging member states to recognise and support their significant contribution to care systems and society as a whole.
Where is European Association Working for Carers - Eurocarers