Source: Help Wanted? Providing and Paying for Long-Term Care, OECD 2011, Chapter 1, P.44.
Providers of long-term care can be divided into two categories: family or informal carers and paid care providers. Both assist patients with daily life tasks, ranging from simple tasks such as getting groceries or filling a prescription occasionally, to complex full-time daily and nightly care of someone no longer capable of managing basic daily activities.
INFORMAL CAREGIVERS: A SUBSTANTIAL ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION
Aside from the fact that the size of the available, formal workforce for paid long-term care is insufficient to meet current and growing demand, the reality is that informal caregivers make a substantial contribution to the European economy. Recent OECD calculations, depending on the method used, show that the contribution of unpaid work undertaken by informal caregivers sits somewhere between 20.1 and 36.8% of European GDP. In other words, there is a high economic value to informal caregiving that would be difficult to fund otherwise. It would also be difficult to find, train and pay for enough formal caregivers to supply the labour needed. Informal care provided by family members is thus a non-negligible part of the long-term care equation.
However, providing care to a family member has other costs to both carers and economies. Lost working days, foregone career opportunities, increased household expenditures for heating, medication, medical aids and transport, and costs related to the mental health of an informal carer all come into play. Because informal caregivers also contribute to the economy through their professional work, it is important to support their needs to ensure their workability, well-being, and productivity.
Help Wanted? Providing and Paying for Long-Term Care © OECD 2011, Ch 2, pp 60-71 and Chapter 1, p.8
Spotlight on Prevention: When, Who and How?
Unhealthy lifestyles and lack of physical activity are key factors in the development of chronic diseases. Early prevention and diagnosis, better education, and above all collaboration among governments, patient organizations, and industry are crucial to prevent chronic diseases from arising.