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Too old to Care? Looking at disability and ageing from the perspective of family carers.

#FamilyCarers  #EDPD2023  #EUCareStrategy

Persons with disabilities have the right to live independently, included in the community, and to family life. To mark the 2023 UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the COFACE Disability Platform places the spotlight on family carers. Their crucial role can significantly boost the fulfillment of the rights outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, provided they receive adequate support. A COFACE Disability “Thematic Note” was developed to contribute to policy discussions and help find constructive solutions.


As the formal Long-Term Care sector is facing dramatic shortages in services and staff that has consequences on the entire society[1], the pressure on family carers is increasing. With the implementation of the European Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the European Care Strategy, the COFACE Disability Platform, while keeping the human rights of all as guiding objective, wants to stress the need to urgently address the needs of all family carers beyond measures to support access to the labour market. The impact on their physical and mental health related to the provision of care and support is real, especially as they are advancing in age.

 Chantal Bruno Co-president of the COFACE Disability Platform said: “If the EU is serious about transforming long-term care systems in a human rights-centred manner, it should not consider care only as an economic good but as an enabler of rights and dignity for all.”

Since the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the COVID-19 crisis, family carers have entered the political discourse. After being neglected and forgotten and after years of advocacy from the COFACE Disability Platform, the European Union and the EU Member States seem to have finally recognised that care and support is not a private matter only but a public and political one and should be addressed as such. However, to respond to the needs and challenges in an appropriate manner, family carers must first be identified.

 Annemie Drieskens, COFACE president said: “It is crucial during the transformation process of the care system to identify the role and responsibility daily taken by millions of family carers across Europe. Caring is timeless, family carers of all ages should be recognised for their valuable role in caregiving and receive targeted support adapted to their situation.”

In the newly released Thematic Note, the COFACE Disability Platform offers reflections on the life course perspective adopted in the 2022 Council Recommendation on access to affordable high-quality long-term care, to explore how family carers of different ages face different challenges and how to support them in accessing resources, time and services.

For the 2023 International Day, COFACE Families Europe calls on the European Commission and on EU Member States to swiftly implement measures under the European Strategy of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the European Care Strategy that ensure a global reform of the care and support system based in the community and aiming to promote the human rights of all. 

Find out more here.