17 June 2020 09:54

Bizkaia launches ‘Bay of Biscay, Bay of Care’, a European reflection process on the long-term care model

Social Action

Thanks to this initiative envisaged since the start of this term of office, Bizkaia Provincial Council has tasked a group of renowned European experts to define the current and future ways of caring for dependent persons. The work will be coordinated in conjunction with AGE Platform Europe, Europe’s leading network of organisations working for the rights of older persons. Sarah Harper, a gerontologist and demographer at Oxford University’s Institute of Population Ageing and advisor to the UK Government, is heading the group of university and research experts from Belgium, Scotland, Rumania/Ireland, Italy and Sweden/Denmark. Sergio Murillo, the Provincial Councillor for Social Action: “long-term care is more necessary than ever, and will continue to be so, and we need to respond today and anticipate the future scenario. We have now launched this reflection process on the long-term care model for Bizkaia and in Europe”.

Bizkaia Provincial Council has opened a European reflection process on how to meet the current and future care needs of dependent persons, a challenge shared with Europe overall. The Provincial Councillor for Social Action, Sergio Murillo, described the initial steps that the ‘Bay of Biscay, Bay of Care' initiative has already taken. It is part of the Bizkaia Egiten plan for this term of office and seeks to reflect on the long-term care model with a group of European experts.

During today’s plenary sessions of the Bizkaia General Assemblies, the Provincial Councillor for Social Action, Sergio Murillo, stressed that long-term care is more necessary than ever, and will continue to be so in the coming years, and we need to respond today and anticipate the future scenario. It is time for profound reflection on the long-term care model in Bizkaia and in the Basque Country… To respond to the demographic challenge not only in quantitative, but also in qualitative terms, from the long-term perspective and in line with Europe. And we are going to be part of that reflection in Europe.

Sergio Muillo explained that long-term care is and must be at the heart of the reflection process; what care we want to give, where it should or can be given, who should give it, what role the person receiving the care will play, their wishes, their aspirations, their life-project… That is the debate if we do it in perspective:

The ‘Bay of Biscay, Bay of Care’ came into being on 3 March 2020 with the approval, by the Government Cabinet, of a partnership agreement with Age Platform Europe, Europe’s leading network of organisations working for the rights of older persons. The signing of this agreement has led to the setting up of a group of European experts to define the fundamentals of the future long-term care model.

The group’s first (virtual) meeting was on 7 May. Sarah Harper - from Oxford University’s Institute of Population Ageing - chaired the panel of university and research experts, known for their experience and knowledge of the different health and social models in Europe.

The members of the group are as follows:

  • Sarah Harper. United Kingdom. British gerontologist and demographer. Joint director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, which she founded in 1997. Advisor to the UK Government, as a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology.
  • Liesbeth De Donder. Belgium. Professor at the VUB (Free University of Brussels), whose field of expertise is in community participation and development, abuse and quality of care for older persons.
  • Anne Hendry. Scotland. Geriatrician and Senior Associate for the International Foundation for Integrated Care, professor at the University of the West of Scotland (United Kingdom), with over 30 years’ experience in the transformation of the socio-health care model in Scotland.
  • Stefania Ilinca. Rumania/Ireland. Researcher at the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity College Dublin, specialised in inequality in access to health and long-term care.
  • Giovanni Lamura. Italy. Researcher at the National Institute of Health and Science on Ageing (INCRA), Ancona (Italy). Between 2009 and 2015, member of Eurocarers, the European association representing informal/unpaid carers.
  • Tine Rostgaard. Sweden/Denmark. Currently at Stockholm University, she lectured in Citizenship and Older Persons, Political Science Department, Aalborg University (Denmark). Person-focused care.

A necessary reflection

The need to reflect on the future long-term care model is based on a demographic reality seen in recent years:

  • The ageing of the Basque population in recent years places the Basque Country, and Bizkaia in particular, among Europe’s most ageing societies. In the last 4 decades, the over 65s have increased in number, rising from 8% of the territory’s population to 23% today.
  • A steady rise in life expectancy, which has increased by 10 years over the last 40 years in Bizkaia, up to 80.4 in the case of men and 86.3 for women.
  • The prevalence of chronicity rises with age and is 80% in the case of the over 65s and 90% in the over 75s in the Basque Country.

Furthermore, in addition of the demographic changes of recent years, the expectations and needs of older persons have also changed. This has set the challenge and need to transform the services and resources aimed at long-term care, whether that is provided in care homes, at day centres, at home, informally or formally, remote or in person, and is social or health care. Nome of them is an isolated element, but rather a cog in a larger mechanism. A mechanism, a whole: long-term care stressed Murillo.

In this regard, the Councillor for Social Action, Sergio Murillo, clarified during his speech that the reflection is not down to the situation caused by Covid-19 in recent week, nor will it solely focus on residential care and the current centre model. In any event, we must consider some lessons learnt regarding the ability of the centres to respond to a pandemic context. It will be included as a further aspect for reflection in a mature and global process to define the fundamentals of a long-term care model for our territory and in Europe.

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