In 2060, Europe will count 2 people between the ages of 15 and 64 for every person over 65. Even with an increased healthy life expectancy, the need for long term care services will represent a colossal challenge.

Yet the sector, which still relies essentially on institutions such as care homes, is already out of breath. These institutions have not fared well in recent months. Their staff, just like the personnel mobilized in the homes of elderly people in loss of autonomy, is also on the verge of collapse: low salaries, part-time work, difficult work schedules, lack of training, …

Certainly, projects such as Burtzoorg in the Netherlands, the Maison des Sages or Alenvi in France, have emerged and developed, and social innovation is flourishing in this sector. But these initiatives need to be even more numerous to take up the challenge. Moreover, they cannot by themselves take over from the care institutions.  Everything must be done to rapidly accompany the transformation of the latter towards a model that is financially sustainable and more respectful of human beings (both staff and residents).

The State needs private partners who are long-term investors, capable of taking risks and looking for a strong social impact associated with a reasoned financial return (ensuring their sustainability). Investors and financers who would be involved in the projects, in order to maximize their social utility. In a nutshell, social investors.

However, the theme does not sufficiently attract the latter, perhaps because the risks of reputations linked to the sector are high. There were various stories reported in the press throughout Europe, noticeably at the height of the COVID crisis. Such as the Rosamonde scandal in France, a care home (managed by a non-profit) in which 31 people, including a nurse’s aide, died as a result of inhumane crisis management.

But isn’t this a challenge worthy of social finance? The coalition of investors capable of long-term financial, human and technical involvement to accompany all the transformations that this sector must accomplish, will surely have proven its raison d’être. And it will show a colossal social return in addition to its financial return.

How can social finance be massively mobilized to meet these investment needs? Will social finance launch a “European old age initiative”, an alliance of actors that goes beyond declarations of intent and isolated initiatives?

Clémentine Blazy