Since October 2014, the European Social Network has been involved in the ‘For Quality! – European project for quality of jobs and services in personal care and household services’, funded by the PROGRESS Programme, together with eight other European networks and organisations. The outputs of this project, a general report assessing policies and practices in the sector across Europe, 11 country reports, recommendations and a toolkit, have now been published and are available online in English and French.

 Differences and gaps in PHS regulation across Europe

For Quality! analysed policies and practices in the personal care and household services (PHS) sector in 11 countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Definitions and policies in the sector differ greatly between countries and in most cases different policies and regulations apply to different sub-sections of the PHS sector. Furthermore, regulation, monitoring and quality improvement activities are underdeveloped in most countries, particularly with regards to domestic services as well as ‘live-in carers’. Wages, training and career opportunities are usually quite poor, and contribute to staff shortages, high turnover and sickness rates, and the low status of jobs in this sector. Particularly where workers are directly employed by the household, enforcing existing regulations for workers’ protection and quality assurance is extremely difficult. 

Initiatives for quality improvement

For Quality! collected a number of practice examples in a toolkit with initiatives that addressed primarily training of staff, monitoring, regulation, involving service users and use of new technology. Many of these examples were presented at the three seminars that the project held – one of which ESN hosted in our hometown Brighton. Several practices were about new monitoring and quality assessment systems without which quality improvement would be difficult to implement and track. These examples are encouraging in a sector that has often been neglected and where efforts to improve the quality of jobs and services have been notoriously difficult to implement.

Policies to strengthen the sector

Complementing the country analyses and the practical examples, For Quality! also developed a set of recommendations for European policy-makers to improve the quality of jobs in personal care and household services. Closing gaps in social protection, training, and health and safety at work is essential to improving working conditions and introducing standards in the PHS sector. European guidelines or recommendations for Member States could help to push the quality improvement agenda in the PHS forward.

More information about the project and all publications in different languages can be found here.