Skip to main content

Informal Home Care for Elderly in Belgium: A Study on the Features and Challenges of Informal Care at Local Level

Abstract

In Belgium, and in other OECD countries, there is a growing awareness about the importance of informal home care for the elderly’s well-being. Informal care is considered as an intrinsically valuable social phenomenon. Public authorities in Belgium have been advocating an active policy of support for informal carers. In 2007, an extensive survey was carried out in the Belgian municipality of Kruibeke in order to establish a better picture of the various needs of the elderly in their home situation, but also to better understand the way in which informal care is provided and perceived by care receivers and care givers. The study points to the need for support for the difficult burden of informal care and highlights the need for a coordinated and integrated approach to elderly care.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. 1.

    The Katz basic activities of daily living (ADL) scale.

  2. 2.

    An electronic device the elderly person wears around his/her neck and through which he can call for help in case of an emergency (e.g. after a fall) by simply pressing a button.

  3. 3.

    A car adapted to the transportation of physically handicapped persons, such as wheelchair users.

References

  1. Al-Janabi, H., Frew, E., Brouwer, W., Rappange, D., & Van Exel, J. (2010). The inclusion of positive aspects of caring in the Caregiver Strain Index: Tests of feasibility and validity. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 47, 984–993.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Barrow, S., & Harrison, R. A. (2005). Unsung heroes who put their lives at risk? Informal caring, health and neighbourhood attachment. Journal of Public Health, 27, 292–297.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Burau, V., Theobald, H., & Blank, R. H. (2007). Governing home care: A cross-national comparison. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  4. Chartreau, C., Guisset, M.-J., Kuhlmann, A., Reichert, M., Teperoglou, A., Teperoglou, E., et al. (2006). The role of the family in integrated care. In J. Billings & K. Leichsenring (Eds.), Integrating health and social care services for older persons: Evidence from Nine European countries (pp. 165–191). Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited.

    Google Scholar 

  5. de Boer, A., Broese van Groenou, M., & Timmermans, J. (2009). Mantelzorg: Een overzicht van de steun van en aan Mantelzorgers. Den Haag: Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

    Google Scholar 

  6. De Koker, B. (2009). Gedeelde zorg is halve zorg? De betekenis van professionele hulp voor partners en kinderen van een zorgbehoevende oudere. In B. Cantillon (Ed.), Ouderen in Vlaanderen en Europa: tussen vermogen en afhankelijkheid (pp. 191–232). Leuven: Acco.

    Google Scholar 

  7. De Koker, B., Jacobs, T., Lodewijckx, E., & Vanderleyden, L. (2007). Recente ontwikkelingen in gezinnen en families: implicaties voor de ouderenzorg. In B. Cantillon, K. Van den Bosch, & S. Lefebure (Eds.), Ouderen in Vlaanderen, 1975–2005: een terugblik in de toekomst (pp. 79–107). Leuven: Acco.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Declercq, A., & Van Audenhove, C. (2004). Eurofamcare: National Background Report for Belgium. Hamburg: University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Exley, C., & Allen, D. (2007). A critical examination of home care: End of life care as an illustrative case. Social Science and Medicine, 65, 2317–2327.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Farfan-Portet, M., Popham, F., Mitchell, R., Swine, C., & Lorant, V. (2010). Caring, employment and health among adults of working age: Evidence from Britain and Belgium. European Journal of Public Health, 20(1), 52–57.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Fast, J. E., Williamson, D. L., & Keating, N. C. (1999). The Hidden Costs of Informal Elder Care. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 20, 301–326.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Fengler, A. P., & Goodrich, N. (1979). Wives of elderly disabled men: The hidden patients. The Gerontologist, 19, 175–183.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Geerts, J. (2009). Gebruik van formele en informele zorg door ouderen. Vlaanderen/België in Europees vergelijkend perspectief. In B. Cantillon (Ed.), Ouderen in Vlaanderen en Europa: tussen vermogen en afhankelijkheid (pp. 155–189). Leuven: Acco.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Heitmueller, A., & Inglis, K. (2007). The earnings of informal carers: Wage differentials and opportunity costs. Journal of Health Economics, 26, 821–841.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Hirst, M. (2003). Caring-related inequalities in psychological distress in Britain during the 1990s. Journal of Public Health Medicine, 25, 336–343.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Hirst, M. (2004). Health inequalities and informal care: End of Project Report (Rep. No. DH 1992). York: The University of York—Social Policy Research Unit.

  17. Jacobs, T., Lodewijckx, E., Craeynest, K., De Koker, B., & Vanbrabant, A. (2005). Mesurer l’aide informelle: synthèse des pratiques européennes et nouvelle proposition. Retraite & Société, 46(9), 60–89.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Lamura, G., Mnich, E., Nolan, M., Wojszel, B., Krevers, B., Mestheneos, L., et al. (2008). Family carers’ experiences using support services in europe: empirical evidence from the EUROFAMCARE study. The Gerontologist, 48(6), 752–771.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Levine, C., Halper, D., Peist, A., & Gould, D. A. (2010). Bridging troubled waters: Family caregivers, transitions, and long-term care. Health Affairs, 29, 116–124.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Lopez Hartmann, M., Wens, J., Verhoeven V., & Remmen, R (2012). The effect of caregiver support interventions for informal caregivers of community-dwelling frail elderly: A systematic review. International Journal of Integrated Care. ISSN 1568-4156-12.

  21. Marks, N. F., Lambert, J. D., & Choi, H. (2002). Transitions to caregiving, gender, and psychological well-being: A prospective U.S. National Study. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 657–667.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Masuy, A. (2011). How does elderly family care evolve over time? An analysis of the care provided to the elderly by their spouse and children in the Panel Study of Belgian Households 1992–2002. Ph.D. Dissertation. Leuven: University of Leuven.

  23. Pickard, L. (2011). The supply of informal care in Europe. ENEPRI Research report 94. Brussels: CEPS.

  24. Pinquart, M., & Sörensen, S. (2007). Correlates of physical health of informal caregivers: A meta-analysis. Journal of Gerontology: Psychologcal Sciences, 62B(2), 126–137.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Roelands, M., Van Oost, P., & Depoorter, A. (2008). Service use in family caregivers of persons with dementia in Belgium: Psychological and social factors. Health and Social Care in the Community, 16(1), 42–53.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Schoenmakers, B., De Lepeleire, J., Ylieff, M., Fontaine, O., & Buntinx, F. (2004). The burden of family care giving in dementia. Arch Public Health, 62, 157–172.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Schulz, R., & Beach, S. R. (1999). Caregiving as a risk factor for mortality: The caregiver health effects study. JAMA, 282, 2215–2219.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Taylor, R., Ford, G., & Dunbar, M. (1995). The effects of caring on health: A community-based longitudinal study. Social Science and Medicine, 40, 1407–1415.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Tester, S. (1996). Community care for older people: A comparative perspective. London: Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Vanbrabant, A. & Craeynest, K. (2004). Realiteit van de mantelzorg. In T. Jacobs & E. Lodewijckx (Eds.), Zicht op zorg. Studie van de mantelzorg in Vlaanderen in 2003 (CBGS-Werkdocument 11 ed., pp. 161–186). Brussel: CBGS—Centrum voor Bevolkings-en Gezinsstudie.

  31. Vanderleyden, L., & Vanden Boer, L. (2004). Zorg en ondersteuning. In T. Jacobs, L. Vanderleyden, & L. Vanden Boer (Eds.), Op latere leeftijd. De leefsituatie van 55-plussers in Vlaanderen (pp. 139–180). Antwerpen: Garant.

  32. Vitaliano, P. P., Zhang, J., & Scanlan, J. M. (2003). Is caregiving hazardous to one’s physical health? A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 946–972.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Winslow, B. (2003). Family caregivers’ experiences with community services: A qualitative analysis. Public Health Nursing, 20(5), 341–348.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Bart Criel.

Additional information

Bart Criel was chairman of the Public Centre of Social Welfare in Kruibeke from April 2001 to July 2008.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Criel, B., Vanlerberghe, V., De Koker, B. et al. Informal Home Care for Elderly in Belgium: A Study on the Features and Challenges of Informal Care at Local Level. Community Ment Health J 50, 848–853 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-014-9696-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Elderly
  • Well-being
  • Informal care
  • Home care
  • Belgium