The Green paper on ageing covered a wide range of issues and comprised 17 open questions serving as the backbone of the public consultation. The Commission presented the green paper on ageing to stimulate a broad public debate on the challenges and opportunities of Europe’s ageing society. It launched a public consultation to gather the views of stakeholders and the general public on possible avenues for action in areas including:
- healthy and active ageing;
- health and long-term care;
- lifelong learning;
- employment and business opportunities;
- autonomy, independence and rights of older people; and
- social protection systems and their fiscal and financial sustainability and adequacy.
The public consultation took the form of an online questionnaire, available in 23 EU languages.
A total of 473 responses were submitted during the public consultation. 70% came from various stakeholder groups: 28 from academic/research institutions, 58 from business associations or companies, 125 from non-governmental organisations, 28 from trade unions and 65 from other stakeholders. Of the remaining responses, 36 were from public authorities (of which 12 were central government authorities), and 133 were from citizens, mainly from Spain, France and Italy. Respondents came from all Member States but one, with the number of contributions ranging from one to 95 per country.
Respondents indicated that access to services, and increasing employment and education opportunities are considered the key factors for addressing the ageing challenge. The importance of family and community is also mentioned frequently, and the European dimension features prominently, reflecting support for EU-level action in these areas.
Respondents expressed strong support for the green paper’s life-cycle approach to ageing, and emphasised the importance of intergenerational ties and the need for an integrated approach in responding to the consequences of the ageing of population. Stakeholders called for inclusive, participatory and rights-based approaches to fight ageism and discrimination and for shifting the perspective from older people as a burden to society to valuing their contribution. There was a broad consensus that ageing should be generally considered a shared responsibility that requires multi-stakeholder collaboration.
Healthy and active ageing
Respondents expressed strong support for health promotion and prevention, as well as a holistic approach that would ensure that healthy ageing is reflected across all policy priorities and all socio-economic groups. Stakeholders suggested to make use of initiatives and tools such as the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing and the Active Ageing Index as well as the ‘healthy and active ageing’ dialogue in Austria that aims to reduce loneliness and isolation. Finland’s national programme on ageing was also highlighted as an example of how to take a cross-cutting approach to ageing.
Respondents agreed on the need to reorganise healthcare systems taking into account the needs of an ageing population. To reconcile adequate and affordable healthcare with fiscal and financial sustainability, respondents mentioned the need to tackle challenges related to access to healthcare, health inequality, low quality and affordability of healthcare, as well as staffing shortages. Many stakeholders called for reshaping healthcare systems by investing in more coordinated and integrated forms of care provision; a holistic and ‘health-in-all policies’ approach8; and people-centred healthcare that delivers quality services across the life-cycle.
Telehealth and digital tools can play a transformative role in enabling home- and community-based care. Some stakeholders highlighted the benefits of telehealth initiatives introduced at local level, and mentioned the examples of Bilbao, Braga and Warsaw that developed telecare systems - including monitoring devices and online or telephone consultations. These are greatly appreciated by older people as it means they can stay at home.
Respondents generally supported the increased digitalisation of healthcare as a means of providing better healthcare services. However, they also pointed out the importance of ensuring an appropriate balance between digital tools and in-person care. Respondents also stressed the need to invest in health promotion, including mental health, early diagnosis and prevention, including vaccination.
Respondents highlighted the need for an integrated approach to long-term care that is accessible, affordable and of high quality, that is centred around the care recipient’s needs and aims at supporting individual’s independence as long as possible. Focusing on increasing the provision of home- and community-based care is considered key to enable ‘ageing-in-place’. Such person-centred care services can best be created through co-development with all stakeholders. In addition, new technologies and digital solutions can improve care delivery, in particular in rural and remote areas.
The report is also available on the demography website (in Documents) The impact of demographic change in Europe | European Commission (europa.eu)