The Irish Government faces pressing challenges in home care for older people – states new TCD study on home care for ageing populations
Posted on: 14 February 2008
‘Home Care for Ageing Populations: A Comparative Analysis of Domiciliary Care in Denmark, the United States and Germany’ – new book from the TCD Social Policy and Ageing Research Centre
The Irish Government faces pressing challenges in home care for older people, Dr Virpi Timonen of TCD’s Social Policy and Ageing Research Centre (SPARC) stated on the occasion of the launch of her new study ‘Home Care for Ageing Populations: A Comparative Analysis of Domiciliary Care in Denmark, the United States and Germany’ at Trinity College Dublin on Wednesday 13 February. The book which has been co-authored by Martha Doyle also of TCD’s SPARC was launched by the Minister of State with responsibility for Older People in the Dept of Health and Children, Máire Hoctor in the 1592 Restaurant, Dining Hall, Front Square, TCD.
“Following several profound transformations in the Irish economy, society and service delivery system – policy-makers in this country are now grappling with the challenge of putting in place a long-term care system for older people that is equitable, affordable and safe. This book contains a wealth of information on the different alternatives in organising and financing care for older people, who in almost all cases wish to receive care in their own homes”, stated Dr Timonen of SPARC the School of Social Work & Social Policy and the Social Policy and Ageing Research.
Governments across Western countries are faced with the challenge of providing care services to growing numbers of older people. These challenges arise from increases in the older population, rise in female labour market participation and possible decreases in availability of family care”.
In most cases, older people have a strong preference for continuing to live in their own home, even when care needs arise. Providing, supporting and funding care in the older person’s own home is a complex task that can be accomplished in many different ways. The alternatives include the use of government payments to encourage care by family members, the direct provision of public services by paid care workers, and the routing of payments towards hiring a care worker privately.
Some of the pressing questions that arise in this area are:
– Care in the homes of older persons is, by definition, care ‘behind closed doors’, and hence does not yield itself easily to monitoring. How can we ensure that the care is of high quality?
– Should care by family members be at all times encouraged, and should stronger financial incentives be created for families to provide care?
– Who should be entitled to services and benefits towards paying for care?
In response to these challenges and questions, researchers from the Social Policy and Ageing Research Centre (SPARC) in Trinity College Dublin undertook research into home care for older people in the United States, Germany and Denmark.
The book, ‘Home Care for Ageing Populations: A Comparative Analysis of Domiciliary Care in Denmark, the United States and Germany’, informs readers on key developments in the long-term care systems (particularly home care) in Denmark, the United States and Germany. It explains the characteristics of the different home care models and the implications of these models for home care recipients.
Among the main questions investigated in the book are how the three countries approach the problems of financing, regulation and provision of domiciliary care. It contains interviews with 25 key experts and observation exercises conducted with home care workers in each of the three countries.
The book makes an important contribution to the debate about the future of care of older people and provides an informative and insightful analysis of the provision of domiciliary care services from a cross-national perspective. It will be of direct relevance to a wide range of professionals, academics and students.
Unlike much policy related analysis of long-term care systems, the book is user-friendly and jargon-free outlining in a clear coherent manner the three different systems of care. It compares the financial advantages and disadvantages of a tax-based social care system versus an insurance based system, and as such will be useful to policy analysts planning future long-term care programmes. It looks at the complexity of state (financially) supported family care and debates whether countries with high levels of social care service provision have low levels of familial care or whether high levels of social services provision promote additional family care. It offers an interesting analysis of how funding of care can promote existing social inequalities and a transmission of intergenerational poverty.
The book, ‘Home Care for Ageing Populations: A Comparative Analysis of Domiciliary Care in Denmark, the United States and Germany’ is published by
Edward Elgar Publishing (UK).
About SPARC at TCD
The first centre of its kind in Ireland, SPARC was established in 2005 to provide fresh, rigorous thinking on social policy as it relates to the ageing population in Ireland and internationally. The Centre has produced a large number of publications on long-term care and other aspects of service provision for older people, including a book on home care for older people in Ireland (‘No Place Like Home: Domiciliary Care Services for Older People in Ireland’, Liffey Press, 2006).