Background to Helpcare
Helpcare has been established as the World Health Organisation has noted the global shortage in home and health care assistants, immigration within the EU has been seen as a partial solution for this. Movement of care workers to higher income countries has become common, for example in Italy the proportion of care workers who were not native Italians increased from 20% in 2001 to 81% by 2006.
Many home care assistants are part of the informal economy which may be decreasing the quality of care the vulnerable need. There are still issues recruiting enough care workers amongst other issues of care provision throughout Europe. The increasing number of very old people (over 85) will place additional demands on systems in place to support and care for the elderly within their homes and the rising participation of women in the workforce across the EU will have an impact on the amount of informal care that that relatives can offer their family members. Here are some of the main issues;
- How to benchmark good quality. This is critical to preventing mistreatment of vulnerable people.
- Continuous professional development. Many home care assistants find it difficult to access CPD training and career development, even though there is significant potential for such workers to progress through to professional healthcare roles such as clinical support workers, nurses or physiotherapy.
- How to attract enough people into home care roles. Unless care work becomes a more attractive career option, with a clear routes to progression it will be difficult to attract young people to this role even in a period of high youth unemployment.
- Hospital admissions. The problems outlined above have a direct impact on the rate of inappropriate hospital admission for people aged over 75 (bed-blocking) up to 30% of stays in hospital by this age group are directly linked to a shortage of suitable home care.
“Home care should be about empowering people to live independent lives near the people and places that are important to them. It should be the way that we
help people get back on their feet after a health or personal crisis” – Ingrid Koehler
Why do we Need to Change?
The problem addressed by the Helpcare project is international: the need for cost-effective and professional approaches for healthcare provision. New means of keeping older people independent and supported in their homes for as long as possible is crucial. Public funding for care is being squeezed and the already undervalued care worker is working in an environment where the low status, pay and often unfavourable terms and conditions does not reflect the responsibility or the benefit they provide society. Helpcare will lead to a more mobile, better educated workforce that can respond to changing demands. Providing pathways to progression will encourage more young people to consider care work as a career choice while a better trained and professionalized workforce, will lead to improved quality of life for elderly people.
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