The Eurofound research report “Care homes for older Europeans: Public, for-profit and non-profit providers” shows how trends in care provision in public and private (both for-profit and non-profit) care homes for older people has changed over time. The report especially focuses on private care provision and service delivery, looking at the accessibility, quality and efficiency of the service.
Some of the key findings include that over the last 10 years, there has been a clear increase in the number of care homes in nearly all EU countries. A closer look at this development shows that the private sector has expanded significantly in terms of number of care homes and the places they provide. Private provision constitutes more than two-thirds of the total number of places in Greece, the Netherlands, the UK (Scotland), Ireland, Spain, and Belgium. While the private sector expanded, there was a decrease or very slow growth in the services provided in public care homes.
Some further findings are that different locations feature different types of care homes, with private care homes more likely to be found in wealthy urban areas. Private care provision has a number of implications for service delivery, with financial pressure on care home providers and rising costs for users being one of the main issues.
The report also contains some policy pointers:
- Improving the monitoring of service provision: There is a need for clear common definitions to monitor the extent of public and private provision (this includes the gathering of data on the type of ownership, but also finding common definitions of what long-term care is).
- Improving the planning and management of services: There is a need to analyse possible trade-offs between efficiency, quality and accessibility of services. Studies that analyse differences between different types of providers need to document whether improvements in one area are done at the expense of others.