In September 2022, the European Commission presented the European Care Strategy, which proposes migration as one of the potential key solutions to the issue of personnel shortages. The strategy aims to secure more affordable and more accessible care services of higher quality in EU Member States and improve the conditions of both caregivers and care recipients, in both formal and informal care. In the new issue of the IPF Notes, Marijana Bađun writes about immigration as the solution to the issue of workforce shortage in long-term care.
Croatia is one of the EU countries experiencing “care drain”, similar to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovenia. Data provided by the Croatian Chamber of Nurses show that 2,400 qualified nurses left Croatia between 2013 and now. The healthcare system currently needs 4,000 additional nurses, while the number of required long-term care staff is unknown.
Croatian Employers' Association has taken the initiative aimed at enabling easier recruitment of foreign workers in long-term care; however, now is the time for the Government to come forward with concrete proposals – not only for potential foreign workers but also for native nurses/technicians and caregivers, who have an exceedingly difficult and underpaid job. One of the first topics to consider and discuss should probably be the fact that nurses in long-term care are paid less than their healthcare counterparts.
It is crucial to provide foreign workers with proper professional training and quality language education as well as to develop integration programmes. European Commission will try to adjust the criteria for recognising qualifications of workers from non-EU countries, which would open up more mobility opportunities for them.