Older people continue to have aspirations to well-being and respect regardless of declines in physical and mental capacity. Long-term-care systems enable older people, who experience significant declines in capacity, to receive the care and support of others consistent with their basic rights, fundamental freedoms and human dignity.
These services can also help reduce the inappropriate use of acute health-care services, help families avoid catastrophic care expenditures and free women – usually the main caregivers – to have broader social roles. While global data on the need and unmet need for long-term care do not exist, national-level data reveal large gaps in the provision of and access to such services in many low- and middle-income countries.
What WHO is doing
Systems of long-term care (including palliative care) are needed in all countries to meet the needs of older people. WHO has identified three approaches that will be crucial. These are:
- establishing the foundations necessary for a system of long-term care;
- building and maintaining a sustainable and appropriately trained workforce;
- ensuring the quality of long-term care.
To support these approaches WHO:
- develops guidelines, providing evidence-based guidance on how to develop, expand and improve the quality of long-term-care services with a focus on less resourced settings;
- provides technical assistance and support to countries that are introducing and expanding long-term-care services;
- develops tools and training packages to strengthen formal and informal caregivers.