The Role of the Caregiver

Rights and legal protections for the increasing number of persons who are an everyday necessity to Patients. The numbers, the defining parameters, and the proposed legal safeguards for those who care for Patients at home.

Who is the Caregiver

Physical needs, emotional support, and monitoring. These three formulations define the Caregiver. We are here referring to family members who take care of chronically ill or disabled relatives. In recent years, such self-sacrifice on the part of families has become an all but indispensable feature of Patient care. The role of family Caregiver has become so ubiquitous in the daily lives of Patients that it has spurred the government to legally specify Caregiver rights and protections. Everything depends on the individual’s unalienable right to healthcare, so the Senate Labour Commission is currently reviewing a new bill designed to establish the legal definition of Caregiver, instituting detailed benefits relating to taxes, social welfare, and working conditions.

The Caregiver, today, in Italy

A family Caregiver is defined as one who sees to an ill or incapacitated relative. Caregivers are often people who minister to their loved ones outside the spotlight, on a volunteer basis and without remuneration. Despite the fact that Caregivers are very numerous in Italy and found in every corner of the country, they have proved elusive to identify. There has been no national research using statistical methodology, nor is there even a national organisation.

Since 2007, there has been an ongoing effort to lend Caregivers the status and recognition they deserve: a cooperative was formed which has created the site and established Caregiver Day, 30 May every year since 2011. It draws on a range of events – workshops, conferences, performances, and training sessions – and offers tools for promoting awareness and increasing knowledge among local families and officials. In addition, in a few Italian regions, there is already even legislation in this regard: at the present time, only in Emilia Romagna, Campania, and Abruzzo.

The Caregiver, today, in the rest of Europe

Conversely, in considering the state of things beyond our home peninsula, we find that laws in other European countries (such as France, Spain, Poland, Romania, and the UK) have for some time been in place to assist family Caregivers – in terms of welfare aid, economic advantages, and social security contributions.

The legal protection

In Italy, the impasse has been at the national level. However, as of April 2017, a positive sign has finally appeared in Italy: parliamentary reform bill #2128 seeks to provide protections for Caregivers and consequent safeguards for their Patients. This bill calls for the statutory establishment of social security, hospitalisation insurance, and sick pay for Caregivers. The bill specifies that every five-year period of Caretaking work is to be awarded one year of social security contributions.

Also essential is Caregiver health insurance coverage: the state would provide “care holidays”, i.e., hospitalisation and/or sick pay for the Caregiver. As things stand at present, a Caretaker falling ill places in serious jeopardy the needs of the incapacitated family member. Thus, the bill contains a proposal for even broader recognition of workplace illness. If illnesses are supported with backup when they befall a Caregiver who actively provides direct care some 8 hours a day, there is at least as much rationale for covering the Caregiver who monitors a family member round the clock.

The passage of this bill will send a crucial message regarding general assistance for Caregivers, figures who serve at the very heart of the lives of millions of Italians.

Additional information about the Caregivers in Italy: ISTAT – 2014.

© Domedica s.r.l.

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