The economic sector of home care and lifestyle services has been growing for the last 10 years. By home care and lifestyle services, we mean, among others:
- Child care and schooling support,
- Lifestyle services,
- Help and care at home for old people,
- Help and care at home for dependent people...
These services respond to merging issues, partly because of European ageing and the growth of women's employment rates. Moreover, due to the importance of what is at stake, in many countries, public authorities have developed targeted policies in this field. At European level, the institutions' interest in the subject grew in the 90's. Nowadays, a revolution is ongoing, led by the European Commission: the liberalisation of services in the EU and especially of social services of general interest (SSGIs). The liberalisation will have a major impact on the sector of home care and lifestyle services with social aim.
At present, three different kinds of actors provide such services: public actors, particularly at local level, big private companies and the third sector, composed by non-profit organisations and companies. As a reaction to the European tendency to extend competition rules and lower public investments, non-profit organisations providing home care and lifestyle services have decided to join forces. By doing so, they will be stronger, they will be able to exchange practices and lobby at the European level. Their final objective is to guarantee the social dimension of their services and maintain a high level of quality.
Thus, some national networks of services providers with social aim such as UNA or SERENA in France, the foundation Agrupacio Mutua in Spain; some European organisations, such as the European Think Tank Pour la Solidarité, DIESIS or the European Pool of Social Economy Foundations; as well as research centres such as CERISIS (in Belgium) or LEST and ORSEU (in France), have created together a European Network of home care and lifestyle services with social aim.
This network aims at:
> providing information on the European dimension of home care and lifestyle services,
> linking social economy actors together,
> creating a resources' centre,
> developing European projects to highlight each partner's experience,
> exchanging knowledge and practices,
> promoting mobility and training among young professionals,
> being a tool for lobbying and representation.