The report “Who cares? Study on the challenges and needs of family carers in Europe”, presented by COFACE Families Europe in November 30, concludes that the fact that “80% of care work in Europe falls on family carers, who are left without adequate financial compensation, social rights, or a pension scheme, is simply not sustainable”.
This stocktaking study on the challenges and needs of family carers in Europe was launched in the European Parliament with Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Olga Sehnalová (Czech Republic) and MEP Marian Harkin (Ireland), to a mixed delegation of MEPs, representatives of the European Commission, national governments, civil society watchdogs, and social partners.
With more than 1,000 answers from family carers across 16 European countries, the report provides a better understanding of the situation in Europe and offers policy recommendations, directly from family carers, on how to better meet their needs and tackle their social exclusion. Family carers fill an important gap in social care provision and provide support to their disabled or older relatives, or to their children with chronic disease or complex needs.
85% of carers are women and 1 out of 3 respondents provides more than 56 hours of highly intensive care per week. Family carers are Europe’s invisible workforce representing one of the most silenced and socially excluded groups. More than 70% of the respondents do not receive any financial compensation for their work and almost two thirds do not have access to any kind of social benefits.
Therefore, poverty is a big threat for carers: 1 out of every 3 respondents stated that they had difficulties to make ends meet as a consequence of their caring role. Since there are often no flexible time arrangements in place at work, many family carers faced challenges in reconciling work with care, and had to leave their job or reduce their working hours.
According to COFACE, “meeting the needs of family carers through targeted measures is necessary in all European countries, since no country stood out with providing adequate support. Investment in 21st century community-based support services and family support measures, with special regard to work-life balance policies, would contribute greatly to the social inclusion and well-being of all families”.
Originally founded in 1958, COFACE Families Europe (Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Community) is a network of civil society associations which represents the interests of all families by promoting their well-being, health and security.
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