More and better jobs in home-care services

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Population ageing creates a need and a demand for more and better jobs in long-term care. An accessible and high-quality system of health and social care provision is essential for European societies and economies. The health and social care sector is growing in nearly all Member States, providing opportunities for an ever greater number of jobs. This is a sector with increasing demands for quality and skills to support people with multiple chronic conditions.

There are barriers to job creation in this sector, however, including a shortage of recruits, budgetary constraints and demanding working conditions. To overcome these problems, a variety of strategies are required. Such strategies can be sustainable, however, only if workers find it worthwhile to stay in the sector, and this means that policies designed to solve labour shortages in the care sector must also ensure that they are satisfied with their working conditions and wages.

This project focuses on 10 EU Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. It examines 30 case studies from these countries, analysing initiatives that were successful either in creating more jobs or in improving the quality of jobs in the sector.

Key findings

  • The balance of community-based versus institutional care for adults with disabilities varies across countries. Overall, there is an increasing trend towards more community-based care. The momentum towards home care appears to be driven by lower costs, policies promoting the greater independence of people with disabilities, the preferences of clients and the potential of assisted-living technology.
  • It is difficult to determine the size of the workforce in community-based care for the elderly and disabled. Data are available only for Austria (20,100 jobs), France (393,000 jobs), the Netherlands (132,200 jobs), Spain (115,900 jobs) and the UK (960,000 jobs).
  • Data available for three of the study countries show rising numbers of home-care workers: on average, in Austria by 740 yearly, in France by 19,800 yearly and in the UK by 28,000 yearly. Most likely, this rising trend also applies in other countries.
  • Generally, the labour market for community-based care is characterised by shortages, especially at higher qualification levels. These have been mitigated temporarily by the economic crisis. In the long term, increasing shortages are to be expected, especially for better-qualified personnel.
  • Europe is in the midst of an economic crisis that is leading to cutbacks in care services and more emphasis on the financial argument for community-based care over institutional care.