Politiques et données sur la santé

Long-term care workforce: caring for the ageing population with dignity


Across OECD countries, long-term care (LTC) systems are under pressure to adapt. The demand for services for older people will very likely increase, raising concerns over financial sustainability. As a labour-intensive sector, the productivity and sustainability of LTC services highly depends on an effective and efficient workforce. Achieving the latter is an important challenge, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OECD examines challenges and policy options for strengthening the LTC workforce, including on training, recruitment and retention, productivity and use of technology, coordination between social and health workers, and coordination between formal and informal workers.


Key insights

The number, competency and type of professionals providing LTC services varies greatly across countries, and so do their policies. For instance:

  • In several countries LTC workers do not receive a specific education or training to work in this sector
  • While in some countries the stock of LTC workers is extremely low and LTC spending has been cut in recent years, in others the situation is considerably less alarming
  • Low pay, high turnover and part-time work remain key features of many LTC labour markets, and working in this sector is still not attractive
  • Several countries still rely on informal workers – such as families and friends – to provide LTC services
  • Evidence on productivity improvements in LTC labour markets continue to be sparse, despite attempts to introduce ICT, reorganise work processes and delegation of tasks to lower cadres
  • Coordination across health and LTC settings remains an important challenge in ensuring quality and continuity of care services

Low numbers of carers relative to the population aged 65+ persist in most countries
Rate of LTC workers per 100 elderly, 2019 and 2011 (or nearest year)


Notes: 1. Break in time series. 2. Data for Sweden cover only the public providers. In 2016, 20% of beds in LTC for the elderly were provided by private companies (but publicly financed).
Access the data.
The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.
Source: OECD Health Statistics 2021, complemented with EU-LFS.

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