Report: The pressure to use foreign staff in long-term care in Estonia will increase

In Estonia, the pressure to use foreign staff in long-term care will increase, says the report of the Foresight Centre Future of Long-term Care Development Trends until 2035, which is presented today.

“The ageing population in Estonia will raise the issue of organising the long-term care during the next decades,” said Head of Research of the Foresight Centre Lenno Uusküla. “Already around 160,000–190,000 people need help in their daily life. This number is predicted to grow by more than 25,000 people by the middle of the century.

One in two of the now 65-year-old Estonian residents will need long-term care services in the future. “And yet Estonian residents underestimate the risk of needing long-term care – 70% of the respondents see the need for help as small or non-existent,” Uusküla added.

The ageing population increases the number of people who need permanent help in their daily lives and causes a growing need for staff in long-term care. “Paradoxically, by increasing the salaries in the field of care and making this hard work more attractive, the prices of services will quickly start to grow and neither the state nor most of those in need of help will be afford these,” Uusküla said. “However, by employing temporary workers in long-term care, it would be difficult to ensure the quality of the services. This increases the pressure to use foreign workers in long-term care.”

Lenno Uusküla suggests that the use of foreign workers should be planned early and pro-actively. “For example, Germany is providing training in countries where they are hopeful to recruit service providers. This includes professional training and language studies, and the graduates get a guaranteed job in Germany.”

Uusküla sees the broader and more systematic use of technology as a means to alleviate the labour shortage in a small way. “In the longer perspective, tele-care is becoming the third type of care next to services that support living at home and institutional care. However, it will become more impactful over the next twenty years, as the generation who has grown up surrounded by technology reaches the age where they need care,” Uusküla added.

In 2021, the study projects of the Foresight Centre include Future of Long-Term Care, which seeks solutions for funding the needs of long-term care in an ageing society over the next 15 years.

The Foresight Centre is an advisory board at the Chancellery of the Riigikogu that analyses long-term developments in society and economy. The Centre conducts research projects to analyse the long-term developments in the Estonian society, and to identify new trends and development directions.

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