Age-Platform Europe and Committee of the Regions

This seminar was the second in a series co-organised by AGE Platform Europe and the Committee of the Regions for the European Year 2012. It aimed to build a picture of the impact of the crisis on older people and develop recommendations to strengthen social inclusion.

The first round table revealed some of the impacts of the crisis on universal health provision. Angela Cluzel, of AGE’s expert group on health and social services, reported that access to GPs was becoming difficult in rural areas and outside of regular hours (e.g. France, Northern Finland), cuts in health transport funding and non-reimbursement of drugs (Greece). Denmark’s system of universal home visits for over-75s was brought up as a good example, but another panellist queried its effectiveness. Tom Kempen (professor of social gerontology at Maastricht University) suggested that an alert system for older people who have real needs might be more realistic for most countries.

ESN’s Stephen Barnett took part in the second round table which covered social exclusion and care services. He noted that social protection is the second biggest area of spending for local and regional government and that a large share of this is dedicated to care for older people. Municipalities are involved in commissioning or coordinating older people’s services and in funding care for those who do not have adequate income from other sources. He highlighted some ways in which social services are now seeking to make efficiency savings that also have the potential to improve quality of life:

  • Ask people what they really need, since it might be less than professionals tend to assume
  • Transform services to be based on prevention and rehabilitation in the community
  • Enhance networking among local services, notably health and social care

However, he did also note that the crisis would probably mean that some older people would have to pay more for their care needs.

AGE’s vice-president Jean-Pierre Bultez stressed the importance of participation of older people in the community and in decisions affecting their lives, e.g. through local councils of older people. Marjan Sedmak of Slovenia is President of AGE; besides talking about “big philosophy”, he said we need to convince the grassroots level locally to act, otherwise we won’t have made a real difference.

Coming up for the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between the Generations 2012:

  • AGE will prepare reports of the seminar series with the Committee of the Regions, the first of which looked at age-friendly labour markets whilst the third will be about an age-friendly EU.
  • ESN’s seminar “Maintaining and Regaining Independence and Inclusion in Later Life: the Role of Social Services in Stuttgart on 24-25 October.

You can find out more about the European Year here.