What are these long term care services

Joint statement on the outbreak of COVID-19 by the EPSU and Federation of European Social Employers

Joint statement on the COVID-19 outbreak: implications for social services and necessary support measures

As the coronavirus spreads across Europe and states gradually put lockdowns in place, we are raising awareness of the threat the virus poses to care organizations and the roughly 11 million social services workers in the EU who play a critical role in care and helping millions of EU citizens play.

Workers who are in close contact with the elderly, people with disabilities and other people in need of care and support are exposed to the coronavirus and the risk of infection on a daily basis.

The spread of Covid-19 is putting pressure on long-term care services that have been underfunded for years and, as a result, often understaffed. The existing financial and personnel difficulties are multiplying in the face of the current crisis, which in the worst case could lead to the complete closure of some care centers and other facilities. For those who need home care support, this situation will only be sustainable if they can continue to count on the support of caregivers.

That is why we are calling on the Member States and the European Commission to support a number of emergency measures to help the social services sector cope with the current situation.

Specifically, we call on:

  • To ensure the continuity of care and support services and the stability of the actors involved in the provision of these services. As these services are essential to the support of millions of Europeans, employers and workers need to be protected by ensuring that existing contracts are maintained and financed even in the event of service interruptions.
  • Remuneration and income support for all nurses in this sector must be guaranteed and they must be prevented from losing their jobs, for example through publicly funded short-time working programs.
  • Equipping the nursing staff with suitable protective material such as masks, hydroalcoholic solution, protective goggles and gloves, and ensuring access to reliable information and training on safety measures in the workplace in all languages ​​used in the work area.
  • Ensuring security logs in nursing homes and other home care services to be able to react quickly in the event of an outbreak and protect residents / beneficiaries and staff. These protocols must also include preparation for a worst-case scenario in which hospitals will reach their maximum capacity and emergencies in nursing homes can no longer be dealt with.
  • Facilitating social services' access to EU and national funds to provide immediate financial support for wages and other costs, including funding innovative responses to the crisis such as the provision of remote assistance.
  • Ensure through national laws or collective agreements the right to paid sick days, flexibility, and other measures necessary to enable social service workers to protect the health of the people they care for and their own health.
  • Provide support to ensure that the children can be looked after by social services workers.
  • With many care systems relying on cross-border movements, they are making exceptions for caregivers to cross national borders that have been closed in response to the spread of the virus.

During this public health emergency, the social partners in social services fully support the measures that Member States and the European Commission have taken so far to contain the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, we are sounding the alarm and calling for the support measures to be maintained and further developed for our sector, which is essential to support the most vulnerable in Europe.

With this declaration, we also jointly express our full solidarity and praise the efforts of employers and workers in social services, which are essential for the well-being of European citizens and essential to overcoming such a crisis.

Jan Willem Goudriaan, Secretary General
Gregor Tomschizek, President Social Employers