Slovenia Should Follow Germany in Tackling Long-Term Care & Demographic Change

By , 02 Oct 2018, 11:50 AM Lifestyle
Slovenia Should Follow Germany in Tackling Long-Term Care & Demographic Change BM10777 CC-by-0

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STA, 1 October 2018 - Long-term care and demographic change, which Slovenia has been unsuccessfully grappling with for some time now, will be in the focus as International Day of Older Persons is observed on 1 October. Expert Martin Toth believes the country should look to Germany for solutions to the problem. 

Toth believes that 60,000 to 70,000 people in Slovenia, which compares to about a tenth of those older than 65, would require long-term care at the moment.

The figure is not a problem as such, but Toth points to demographic change as worrisome, as the share of old people requiring long-term care could triple by 2030.

According to Statistics Office figures, Slovenia was home to 400,000 people aged 65 or more on 1 January, of whom 4.3% lived in retirement homes.

Broken down by age groups, 1% of those younger than 70 live in retirement home, with the share rising to 30% among those aged 95 or more.

The public network of retirement homes comprises 123 units with almost 19,000 beds, with the prices ranging from 21 to 35 euro a day.

However, long-term care is not systemically addressed in Slovenia, which means that many older people have to take care of their needs by themselves or with the help of their family.

Toth told the STA that despite efforts that had been going on for more than a decade, there was always a lack of political will to pass a bill that would address the matter.

Toth led the first task force to draft such a bill in 2002, but all efforts have fallen through since, including the latest proposal the Health Ministry put forward last year.

Toth as well as Human Rights Ombudsman Vlasta Nussdorfer agree that the proposal was incomplete, with Nussdorfer saying that she would talk to relevant ministers to address the issue in the autumn.

Meanwhile, Toth believes that Slovenia could set up a system similar to the one in Germany, where the authorities determine what kind of help an elderly person needs and ensure they get what they need.

People can seek out help by themselves or their families can help them in exchange for certain benefits in their workplace.

Moreover, unemployed people who help those who need help aid get compensated in Germany. Toth believes there is no need to graduate from nursing to be able to help an older person in terms of cleaning, cooking and keeping company. "In most cases it is enough if the person is kind."

According to Toth, such a measure would cost 120-140 million euro a year, which could be secured with a 1.7% rise in contribution rates.

But a change in people's mindset would also be required, mostly in understanding the fellow human being, he acknowledged.

To mark International Day of Older Persons, the traditional three-day Third Age Festival, an event dedicated to ageing, will get underway on Monday.

The event will be addressed by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Ksenija Klampfer and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) leader Karl Erjavec.

Šarec pointed out on Friday that tackling long-term care was one of the government coalition's priorities.

The government plans to give older people a free choice of care with quality social and healthcare services and introduce a long-term care insurance to secure the required funds.

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