Providing and Paying for Long-Term Care – OECD

Providing and Paying for Long-Term Care

As life expectancy pushes into the late 70s for men and well into the 80s for women, ever more people want help in order to be able to live their lives to the full for as long as possible.  How will demographic and labour market trends affect the supply of family and friends available to care for us? Can we rely on family carers as the sole source of support for frail seniors? Should family carers and friends be better supported, and if so how? Can we attract and retain care workers — is it just a matter of paying them better? Will public finances be threatened by the cost of providing care in the future? What should be the balance between private responsibility and public support in care-giving? Can we reduce costs by improving efficiency of long-term care services?

In most countries, family carers and friends supply the bulk of caring, and the estimated economic value exceeds by far expenditure on formal care. A continuation of caring roles will be essential given future demographic and cost pressures facing long-term care (LTC) systems across the OECD. This is also what care recipients themselves prefer. Continuing to seek ways to support and maintain the supply of family care appears therefore a potentially win-win-win approach: For the care recipient; for the carers; and for public systems. This chapter provides an overview and an assessment of the current set of policies targeted to family carers, in relation to three main aspects: Caring and the labour market, carers’ wellbeing, and financial recognition to carers. The effectiveness of policies in helping carers combine care with paid work, in reducing burnout and stress of carers, and in recognising the additional costs associated with caring will then be discussed. 

Supporting the role of informal carers (family and friends providing mostly unpaid care to frail seniors) is important to provide an adequate continuum of care between informal and formal care. While caregiving can be beneficial for carers in terms of their self-esteem, it can be difficult for working-age carers to combine paid work with caring duties and carers may choose to quit paid works or reduce the work hours. This may compromise their future employability and lead to permanent drop-out from the labour market. Caring may also cause burnout and stress, potentially leading to worsening physical and mental health. This chapter offers an overview of the characteristics of family carers and the impact of caring for frail seniors on labour market and health outcomes of carers. This will provide insights in how to shape policy reforms with the objectives of 1) helping carers to combine caring responsibilities with paid work; and 2) improving carers’ physical and mental wellbeing by reducing mental health problems. Countries which want to maintain or increase reliance on family carers will need to alleviate the burden of family carers and reduce the economic costs associated with caring responsibilities

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One Response to “Providing and Paying for Long-Term Care – OECD”

  1. A world on the brink | FEED NEWS Says:

    […] Providing and Paying for Long-Term Care – OECD « Carer Watch's Blog […]

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