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Government Plans On Long-Term Care Are Crumbling

After 20 years of government failures, the Janša government succeeded in adopting the Long-Term Care Act. The law dictated that the changes should be implemented on the 1st of January 2023, so that now, after years and decades, long-term care would finally be regulated systemically. But that is not what happened. Namely, the Golob government removed the law and set a new timeline: it postponed the implementation deadline for a year – to the 1st of January 2024. This week, however, Simon Maljevac’s Ministry of Solidarity-Based Future has only revealed the starting points for setting up a long-term care system, but the first reactions to it are not encouraging. “I wouldn’t say the bill is close,” said Martina Tavčar Krajnc, “there are too many unknown parts still left and, unfortunately, there is practically no time left to solve this,” said Tatjana Milavec, a representative of the social work centres, which have been given a central role in the system by the current government.

Representatives of key organisations are not exactly thrilled about the solutions and proposals of the Ministry of Solidarity-Based Future for a renewed law on long-term care, for which the Ministry has so far prepared the starting points of a proposal. They say that some of the solutions are unacceptable, and many are undefined and flawed. It has become more than obvious that this will be just another broken promise of the Robert Golob government, which, apparently, also has a new timeline, and the elderly will again be the worse off.

The new government has withdrawn the law of the Janša government on the pretext that there were not enough funds for the Act as it was. However, the Act had a very clear and solid financial basis, but now the problem is, once again, the financing. Employers do not agree with the proposal to finance just under a third of it from the healthcare budget. In their view, the funds for long-term care cannot be found either in the healthcare budget or in possible additional burdens on the economic sector. The economy is already overstretched and should be relieved, not further burdened.

Criticism of the new law proposals – the meetings are useless

The Ministry has been meeting with representatives of those most affected by the law, but many of them complain that the meetings have been unhelpful and accuse the Ministry of not being well enough prepared for the talks, the media outlet N1 reports. “There are too many unknown parts and, unfortunately, there is practically no time left to solve this,” said Tatjana Milavec, a representative of the social work centres, which have been given a central role in the system by the current government, while Martina Tavčar Krajnc believes that we are not as close to the new law as the authorities are trying to make it seem for the public.

Denis Sahernik, from the Community of Social Institutions, which represents homes for the elderly and other care institutions, said that they had high hopes for the Consultative Working Group, but “unfortunately, we find that the Consultative Working Group is not working as expected, which is why we did not attend the last meeting. We cannot contribute to a better long-term care law based on the way it has worked so far,” he stressed.

Will social work centres play a key role?

The current government intends to put social work centres at the centre of the new law. However, the community of social work centres only found out about this a month ago, said Milavec, the secretary of the community, N1 reports. Then they met with the Minister, who told them that the new tasks would result in an extra 60 people being employed in centres across the country. “We don’t know how many extra staff we will need,” said Milavec, “because we don’t know what specific tasks they will be expected to carry out, we don’t know the process of the work, nor the standards and norms. In addition, there is a shortage of labour, so there is a very high risk that we will not get the staff we need.” Problems with the new Long-Term Care Act are piling up, and the dates keep on being pushed. Clearly, this will be another failed attempt by the Golob government.

Sara Kovač

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