23 January 2023
Care may be globally defined as the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance and protection of someone or something. It includes childcare, long-term care of older persons or those with disabilities and healthcare.Read more
Care may be globally defined as the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance and protection of someone or something. It includes childcare, long-term care of older persons or those with disabilities and healthcare. To understand the implications of care, it is worth distinguishing between care recipients and people with care responsibilities (carers). It is also important to distinguish between care as paid or unpaid work and informal care provided by family and friends. The provision of care services is a key component of social protection, improving quality of life and access to education and employment for EU citizens. It includes childcare, healthcare and long-term care.
- Eurofound Talks podcast: Episode 10 - Care
Improved access to quality and affordable childcare and elderly care can help to facilitate the European Commission’s goals to increase employment, particularly the participation of women and older workers in the labour market.Read more
Improved access to quality and affordable childcare and elderly care can help to facilitate the European Commission’s goals to increase employment, particularly the participation of women and older workers in the labour market. The European Pillar of Social Rights puts a strong focus on care, firstly regarding the right to equal opportunities and access to the labour market. This focuses on the right of parents and those with caring responsibilities to a better work–life balance, with suitable leave and flexible working arrangements, as well as access to care services. In the area of social protection and inclusion, it highlights the right of children to affordable early childhood education and good-quality care provision. It stresses the right to timely access to affordable and quality healthcare. It also underlines the right of all to affordable long-term and good-quality care services, particularly home-care and community-based services.
The European Child Guarantee, adopted in June 2021, aims to ensure that every child in Europe at risk of poverty or social exclusion has access to the most basic of rights like healthcare and education. The Council Recommendation on high-quality early childhood education and care systems, adopted in May 2019, aims to support Member States in improving access to and quality of their services. Eurofound participates in a thematic Working Group as part of this initiative. Adopted in June 2019, the new Directive on work–life balance for parents and carers, aims to increase women’s participation in the labour market and the take-up of family-related leave and flexible working arrangements.
On 7 September 2022, the European Commission presented a new European Care Strategy as part of its Work Programme 2022 to ensure 'quality, affordable and accessible care services' across the EU.
- European Commission: European Pillar of Social Rights
- European Commission: European Child Guarantee
- European Commission: Council Recommendation on high-quality early childhood education and care systems
- Council of the EU: Better work-life balance for parents and carers in the EU: Council adopts new rules
- European Commission: A European Care Strategy for caregivers and care receivers
Eurofound research focuses on a range of care-related topics. These include working and caring, initiatives to support informal carers involved in paid work as well as those who are not, the increased need for long-term care, childcare provisions and access to public services.Read more
Eurofound research focuses on a range of care-related topics. These include working and caring, initiatives to support informal carers involved in paid work as well as those who are not, the increased need for long-term care, childcare provisions and access to public services.
Survey data on care
Eurofound’s regular European Quality of Life Surveys (EQLS) and European Working Conditions Surveys (EWCS) cover various aspects related to these topics.
The EWCS provides valuable information about working time and flexible working arrangements, paid and unpaid work, work organisation and work–life balance. Research has covered topics such as the working conditions of women and men, the working conditions of an ageing workforce , as well as health and well-being at work.
The EQLS offers extensive data on care, including the high amount of informal care performed by people who are not in paid employment. The EQLS 2016 provides a range of information about quality of and access to healthcare, long-term care and childcare services in particular. Based on this data, a 2019 study examines access to and quality of key public services in the EU. It reveals citizens’ perceptions of quality in healthcare, long-term care and childcare and compares them between countries, groups in society and the receivers of care and indirect service users.
- Publication: Quality of health and care services in the EU
Access to childcare, healthcare and long-term care
Research looking at access to early childhood education and care (ECEC), healthcare and long-term care services across various Member States outlines the barriers to the take-up of care services and differences in access issues between population groups.
- Publication: Access to care services: Early childhood education and care, healthcare and long-term care (8 October 2020)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, research has examined access to healthcare and the rise in unmet medical needs both during and in the aftermath of the crisis. It highlights the policy need to look at the impact this will have on the health of a workforce from which more work is expected in the coming years. Moreover, research has explored the impact of the pandemic on the quality of life of older citizens, including the effects on the use of care services and older people’s reliance on other support.
- Blog: Protecting access to healthcare during COVID-19 and beyond
- Publication: Education, healthcare and housing: How access changed for children and families in 2020
- Publication: COVID-19 and older people: Impact on their lives, support and care
- Blog: Forthcoming European Care Strategy must look towards the future
With population ageing and the need for long-term care services on the rise, research has also looked at the employment and working conditions of the long-term care workforce, examined recruitment and retention measures in home- and community-based care services, and also looked at support services for adults with physical and intellectual disabilities and chronic health problems – both physical and mental.
Combining care and work: towards sustainable work
To be available for employment, work demands must be reconciled with those of one’s private life – in particular, the needs of children or dependent adult relatives. And these needs shift over the course of a working life. Eurofound discusses these issues in its EWCS research on working time and work–life balance in a life course perspective, and on working time patterns for sustainable work .
Addressing the childcare needs of working parents and the care needs of older or disabled relatives and dependants has become central to the discussion around resolving the work–life balance conflict. Eurofound’s research on reconciling working and caring responsibilities shows the challenges involved in combining work and informal care in times of demographic change, and what measures are available to working carers to allow them to balance these demands. Research on work preferences after 50 highlights the demands on older workers as care providers.Read less
Key outputs over the years
Publications & dataTop
The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.
- Publications (161)
- Ongoing work (1)
Eurofound publications come in a variety of formats, including reports, policy briefs, blogs, articles and presentations.
Watch the webinar - #EurofoundLive: Building a stronger Europe - Making the European Care Strategy workEvent 27 October 2022
A selection of related data on this topic are linked below.
- Data: European Quality of Life Survey
- Data: European Working Conditions Survey
- Data: Workers with care responsibilities case study database: Examples of company initiatives to support workers with dependent-care responsibilities in 10 Member States
- Data: Ageing workforce case study database: Good practice examples in relation to such issues as recruitment, training and development, flexible working, health, ergonomics, etc.
Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles.