Innovative strategies to empower users of care services
The stereotype of irreversible physical decline and dependency of older people doesn’t match today’s reality: the ‘new old’ of the 21st Century are on average healthier than any older generation before them. They can and want to participate in all spheres of life, and they have diverse demands when it comes to care.
This is why the latest issue in the series of UNECE Policy Briefs on Ageing focuses on innovative approaches to care that empower users by emphasizing their inclusion in the design, implementation and provision of care services.
With older people making up an ever-growing share of our populations, and with a majority wishing to remain independent rather than moving to care institutions in the later stages of life, we must rethink our strategies for providing care. Governments need to move towards a goal of ‘active care’, where older people are agents of their own well-being rather than passive patients.
The UNECE policy brief recommends extending home-based services and furthering the integration of care into the local community; exploring the potential of technology to support active care; and considering new forms of cooperation between public care services and other sectors.
A joint Finnish-Estonian project showcases how communication technology can be employed as a tool to help older people remain connected to their community. A special touch screen device is used to enable older people in remote areas to follow broadcasts and interact with other users, in activities such as exercise programmes and singing sessions. The activities help them to fight loneliness and to participate in social life.
The policy brief on innovative strategies for care will be followed later this year by one on ensuring dignity for people with dementia—a topic that is growing in importance as our populations age. With the World Health Organization convening the first ever Ministerial Conference on Dementia later this month, the policy brief will provide a timely analysis of the issues facing older people with dementia and those who care for them.
All the briefs in the series suggest concrete policy measures, offer a checklist to policymakers and illustrate the strategies suggested with a series of real-life examples of good practice from across the region, showing how these approaches are already being used.
Previous issues of the policy brief series can be seen at www.unece.org/population/ageing/policybriefs