The Second International Conference on Evidence-based Policy in Long-term Care organised by the International Long-term Care Policy Network took place from the 5th to the 8th of September 2012 at the London School of Economics. The conference discussed key policy issues relating to the organisation, delivery, funding and regulation of long-term care services with leading academics and policy makers from several countries.

The design of long-term care services is crucial for the millions of current and future users across Europe. How can policy makers reform care systems and improve the lives of users in a time of radical change and financial cuts to the public sector? To ensure quality and efficiency in care practice, national governments require the support of evidence-based research and analysis. The aim of the conference was to promote the results of international studies among decision makers working to improve the quality of life for both care users and carers.

During the conference, international researchers presented the latest results of research into international comparative policy analysis, care models, service commissioning and regulation, and measurement of quality and outcomes. The researchers emphasised that national long-term care systems vary in terms of their organisation, financing, the role of informal carers and accessibility to long-term care services. Comparison is therefore a challenge. However, there is growing international interest in developing a measurement that would enable the comparison of quality of life and outcomes.

Despite this, there is currently a lack of research evidence in social care policy and practice. However, developing measures to capture the outcomes of social services is essential in identifying acknowledged and established good practice. This helps policy makers and professionals working in social services assess and monitor the quality of care in their country.

The key message of the conference was that, in order to improve long-term care systems, it is important to raise awareness of the need of evidence-based social care research and good practice and translate research into practice by involving policy makers in order to empower service users.

Further information is available on the ILPN website.