New Framework Released by WHO Aimed at Long-term Care Crisis

In an era when the global population is aging, and the number of people aged 80 and older is growing faster than any other age group, policymakers are facing a long term care crisis that threatens to overwhelm economies and societies.

Lead author Dr Maria A van den Muijsenbergh from Radboud University Medical Center in The Netherlands said: ‘The rising costs associated with providing long-term care for an ageing population is a concern worldwide. As the first baby boomers in the US and Europe reach retirement age, the demand for long-term care will rise accordingly.’

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 115 million family caregivers – mostly women – provide unpaid care for people with dementia in low- and middle-income countries. This number is expected to impact the long term care crisis as it triples by 2050.

To support countries to develop or strengthen their long-term care systems and services, WHO has released a new Framework for countries to achieve an integrated continuum of long-term care.

This framework identifies key aspects necessary to achieve an integrated continuum of long-term care service provision and to facilitate the integration of long-term services within existing health and social care systems.

It describes six domains of system functioning that are essential to achieving an integrated continuum of long-term care services:

  • be person centred and aligned with the person’s values and preferences;
  • optimize functional ability over time and compensate for loss of intrinsic capacity;
  • be provided in the community;
  • provide integrated services in a continuum;
  • include services that empower the older person; and
  • emphasize support for carers and care workers

By applying this framework, countries can begin to develop systems to address the long term care crisis and shape their systems as part of their universal health coverage programs. This will promote investment in long-term care and the healthcare workforce.

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