CIRCLE is a longstanding member of the European NGO Eurocarers, and proud to have its Director as a member of our Sustainable Care Advisory Board. We are happy to share below the important press release Eurocarers issued following its Annual General Meeting on 27 May 2020.
Sue Yeandle, Director, CIRCLE
Every day, millions of ‘informal’ carers across Europe play a central part in the long-term care of people with a chronic illness, disability or other needs. They often do this unpaid and with minimal support. Many pay a high price for their caregiving in terms of negative health, social and employment outcomes. The COVID-19 crisis is visibly aggravating these effects and has made carers more isolated, vulnerable and invisible than ever before. On the occasion of its AGM, the Eurocarers network calls for immediate action to address their needs.
“We need a carers’ strategy for the European Union that recognizes and acknowledges caring and the right of carers and care recipients to get sufficient economic support and other support services, as well as better health care and rehabilitation services for carers and care recipients. Every EU member state should have and implement their own national carers’ strategy.”
Sirpa Pietikäinen, Member of the European Parliament, Co-chair of the European Parliament Interest Group on Carers
Caring can be one the most rewarding aspects of the human experience, but can be one of the hardest, too. From a philosophical standpoint, it consists in a selfless contribution to the wellbeing and quality of life of those in need of care – a beautiful concept. Yet, in today’s society, the burden of caregiving on carers is well documented – on their health and well-being, on their access to or remaining in the labour market, on their ability to balance paid work with care, and on the socialisation and education of young carers.
Carers provide the lion’s share of long-term care in Europe today. According to some estimates, 80% of all care in Europe is provided by families, friends and neighbours. The value of this care is not only a matter of finances: it is also rooted in solidarity, a value which should be respected and nurtured.
As the community of carer organisations documents the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on carers and care models, while formulating adequate responses to alleviate the burden of care, carers continue to be the backbone of care provision in the community. Many provide care to members of at-risk groups (or are part of these groups) and are at risk of catching the virus. As a result, carers are now providing even more support, under increased pressure to protect themselves from infection and prevent transmission to the person they care for. Carers have had to adapt quickly to the pandemic, often without guidance or personal protective equipment (PPE). The confinement measures put in place in many countries have further enhanced the isolation of many, causing distress and creating challenging home situations.
On the occasion of their 17th AGM, on the 27th May 2020, and against this backdrop, members of the Eurocarers network reaffirm their commitment to convey the voice of carers at all levels of governance. They call on EU institutions and member states to take immediate action to recognise and support informal carers. The measures needed include:
- A clear policy commitment to informal care as a choice rather than a default option;
- Recognition of carers as essential partners in care, who require access to the essential materials (e.g. PPE), information and training they need to carry out their tasks;
- Provision of professional support services, including respite care, to all carers across Europe;
- Effective data collection about the prevalence of caring and the needs of carers;
- Preventative measures to offset the negative impacts of care (e.g. social protection for carers, access to education and employment, training, recognition of skills, health literacy)
- Resolute public investment in long-term care;
- The use of public and European funds to improve the quality of life of persons in need of care and carers;
- Systematic and meaningful dialogue with carers and organisations that represent them in policy making processes.