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Demographic change and care for older people (completed)

A meeting of this Working Group was held in 2003 during the European Population Conference in Warsaw. The objective of the meeting was to agree a plan to take forward the scientific WG aims and, as a means of doing so, to develop an organizational structure. The meeting was open to everyone with an interest in the subject and was attended by some forty people from a wide range of European countries. The tasks and scientific priority aims listed below were proposed as a basis for discussion:

  1. Sharing information
  2. Developing research
  3. Raising funds for collaborative workshops

The following priority areas were defined:

  • Demographic change and family support
  • Provision and cost of health and welfare services
  • Demographic change and recruitment of formal carers
  • Care and well-being of older people

1. Sharing information

Representatives of two existing research groups undertaking comparative European work relevant to the WG aims had been invited to make short presentations about these programmes. Michel Poulain introduced the work of the FELICIE project (Future Elderly Living Conditions in Europe) (http://www.felicie.org) which was is funded under the EU Fifth Framework Programme and involves teams from nine European countries working on demographic and other influences on the living arrangements and care needs of the population aged 75 years and more over the next 30 years. Karen Glaser and Cecilia Tomassini then spoke briefly about the work of the European Science Foundation funded network FAMSUP (Family Support for Older People: determinants and consequences) (http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/cps/famsup/) which brings together a group of researchers from Europe and North America working on the effects of demographic and family change on the living arrangements, support and well-being of older people. In the following discussion several people mentioned other groups that they were part of or that they knew of having similar or relevant aims. These include those working on analyses of the Policy Population Acceptance Programme (see for example http://www.nidi.nl/research/prj40003.html); the Comparison of Longitudinal European Studies on Ageing (CLESA) group (contact Dorly Deeg, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam); the OASIS group (also funded under the EU Fifth Framework), which has as its goal to learn how family cultures and service systems support autonomy and delay dependency in old age, to promote quality of life and improve the basis for policy and planning http://www.keele.ac.uk/depts/so/csg/oasis.htm); the SHARE imitative (Survey of Health and Retirement in Europe) and quite a number of others. Those present were concerned at the potential duplication of effort, and missed opportunities for learning and for collaboration, that might arise as a result of so many groups operating without knowledge of what others were doing. It was therefore agreed that: the WG would assemble information on groups and networks undertaking comparative European research on aspects of demographic change and the care of older people and post details on this on the EAPS web site, together with relevant links, and that the WG would build on work of existing groups rather than duplicating it.

2. Promoting scientific advancement and collaboration

It was agreed that the best way forward would be to convene small workshops on specific topics within the broad remit of the WG where there would be time for presentations and detailed discussion, possibly leading to some publication. Several participants in the meeting kindly suggested that their institutions might be able to host such a meeting. Proposed topics included Changing marital status: implications for health and support; Policy responses to population ageing; and several others (feedback welcome). The WG committee will work on these ideas, in collaboration with others and details will be posted on the EAPS web site as they become available. Another possible suggestion was to develop a proposal for a larger EURESCO conference.

3. Establishing an organizational structure and programme

It was agreed that membership of the WG is open to all EAPS members with an interest in the topic and that non-members of EAPS are also welcome to contribute to activities and ideas. The WG as a whole would meet again at the IUSSP meeting in Tours in 2005 and possibly before if there is an opportune occasion. A committee was agreed upon (Emily Grundy (Chair), Aline Desesquelles (France), Gabriele Doblhammer (Germany), Ewa Fratczak (Poland), Jenny Gierveld (Netherlands), Guiseppe Gesano (Italy), Karen Glaser (UK), Pekka Martikainen (Finland), Sophie Pennec (France), Michel Poulain (Belgium), Gaiane Safarova (Russia), Cecilia Tomassini (UK/Italy), Lucie Ehrenbergerova Vidovico (Czech Republic) and Guillame Wunsch (Belgium). Committee members worked to further the WG aims and communicated principally via email.

4. Advocacy and other functions

It was agreed that the WG might also have a useful role in arguing for better access to relevant data, especially that collected by the EU, and generally in promoting understanding of the demographic contribution to scientific and policy debates about the consequences of population ageing. The Working Group organized several events and ended its activities in 2009; the group was most recently chaired by Emily Grundy (United Kingdom).