The Long-Term care System for the Elderly in Italy

In Italy, social care and integrated social–health care services are assuming an increasingly prominent role, owing to the growth in demand for long-term care caused by the rapid ageing of the Italian population; changes in the family structure; and other socio-economic changes, notably the increase in women’s labour participation. Long-term care in Italy is characterized by a wide variation among regions and areas in both funding levels and the structure of the services provided. Generally speaking, in northern Italy the culture of public service in long-term care is widespread, partly owing to the high level of participation by women in the labour market. These regions – and municipalities – have been making an effort to improve their system, thanks also to their more developed management capabilities and their larger economic resources. In the south, by contrast, the care burden rests mostly on families, with poor public support. In any case the demand for a general, national, integrated long-term care system – although with decentralised management responsibility – seems to be strong all over the country and the debate on possible reforms has been going on since the early 1990s.
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