The Solid Facts: Home Care in Europe

Source: Rosanna Tarricone & Agis D. Tsouros, Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization, 2008

Demographic, epidemiological, social, and cultural trends in European countries are changing the traditional patterns of care. The next decades will see increasing rates of care-dependent older people and noncommunicable diseases as the leading cause of chronic illness and disability. The break-up of the traditional large family group and urbanization will also lead to gaps in the care of older or disabled family members. These changes in needs and social structure require a different approach to health and social sector policy and services since a disease-oriented approach, alone, is no longer appropriate. An answer to these issues could be home care, a sustainable approach to prevent the need for unnecessary acute or long-term institutionalization and maintain individuals in their home and community as long as possible. Technological innovation together with new and modern forms of service delivery organization can represent a viable solution to developing home care in Europe provided that health care systems can further enhance integration and coordination. This publication is part of the work of the WHO Regional Office for Europe to present evidence for health policy- and decision-makers in a clear and understandable form. It explains why health and social services should provide high-quality and targeted home care for disabled and older people. It provides evidence for the effectiveness of home care, shows how it can be improved and explains the need to ensure equitable access. The publication also explores the varied cultural and care contexts in different countries and reveals how to educate professionals and the public about these issues. This booklet seeks to broaden awareness, stimulate debate and promote action.

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