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The InCARE project aims to promote participatory, innovative and integrated approaches to long-term care (LTC) policy and service development. InCARE emphasizes four key aspects for system sustainability and innovation capacity:

  • Multi-stakeholder cooperation;
  • Community engagement;
  • Evidence based decision-making;
  • Capacity building through mutual learning.

We propose social innovation in LTC should reflect the aspirations and needs of older people with functional or cognitive impairment and their caregivers, while emphasizing the role of local communities and service providers to shape care service delivery in innovative ways, facilitated by national policy-level support for adapting, adopting and enhancing these initiatives.

InCARE includes two main types of activities, built around the structure of a Theory of Change process:

  1. Formative research tasks in support of policy processes (creation of knowledge base; policy toolkit; participatory decision-making)
  2. The design, implementation and evaluation of socially innovative long-term care service pilots in 3 European countries: Austria, North Macedonia and Spain.

InCARE will provide proof of concept for a road-map to inclusive LTC system development, promote multi-stakeholder national and international partnerships and support LTC policy processes and reforms.


The InCARE consortium is composed of:

  • National public authorities and social partners that will implement the action in Austria, North Macedonia and Spain;
  • International technical-support partners with extensive experience in LTC service design, research, policy analysis, and advocacy.

InCARE builds on the expertise accumulated by international knowledge centers while empowering local stakeholders to define, implement and scale-up activities aimed at shaping national LTC policies and service delivery through a socially innovative approach to decision-making processes and multi-level governance development.

Policy background

The European Pillar of Social Rights (‘the Pillar’), proclaimed on 17 November 2017, sets out key principles and rights for a renewed process of upward convergence towards better working and living conditions, including work-life balance and the right to adequate social protection. It will serve as a compass for a renewed process of convergence towards better working and living conditions among the Member States.

Principle 18 of the Pillar states that everyone has the right to affordable long-term services of good quality, in particular home-care and community-based services. Long-term care (LTC) is understood as a range of services and assistance for people who, as a result of mental and/or physical frailty and/or disability over an extended period of time, depend on help with daily living activities and/or are in need of some permanent nursing care.

While Member States differ in how they design and fund LTC, a number of challenges are common to all, in particular:

  • The access and affordability challenge
  • The sustainability challenge
  • The employment challenge
  • The quality challenge

In the complex and fast-changing environment of LTC systems in Europe, stable patterns of action transferred without modification from one setting to the other, are unlikely to lead to optimal outcomes. There is a need to develop structures and processes which are adaptive both to local and temporal variations and which can accommodate multi-faceted governance structures.

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