On Wednesday 11th March the World Health Organisation officially characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic, meaning that the disease has spread around the world beyond the expectations of health experts.
Across the world, like many other sectors, social service providers are taking incredible measures to effectively deal with prevention, support and containment of the COVD-19 outbreak. These measures are even more important given the nature of social service provision, which is to provide care, support and health services to people who can be far more at risk to COVID-19 than the general population, including persons with disabilities.
Via this webpage EASPD will communicate the most up-to-date and reliable information that is relevant for the sector as they work to protect staff and users while providing vital support services to persons with disabilities.
Action at a European Level
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak the European Unions is coordinating a common European response to the outbreak of COVID-19. This response aims to reinforce Member State public health sectors and mitigate the socio-economic impact in the European Union.
To date, measures include:
- Ensuring the supply of personal protective equipment in the EU, by creating rescEU stockpile of medical equipment (€80 million) & regulating the ability of Member States to export such equipment outside of the EU as well as harmonized standards for medical devices.
- Allowing Member States to have full flexibility in Stability and Growth rules, meaning national governments do not have to limit themselves to current public debt rules to allow them to spend what they need to in order to deal with COVID-19 outbreak.
- Allowing Member States to further aid the economic and social of COVID-19 outbreak, by adopting Temporary Framework on State Aid.
- Re-directing €37 billion of unspent EU Structural Funds to national, regional & local communities fighting COVID-19 through Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus, including European Commission writing to each Member State to recommend targeted support to community-based social care provision (with ESF) (amongst other measures)
- Allowing EU Solidarity Fund Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus to be used for Public Health Emergencies; meaning more EU funds directed to deal with outbreak.
- Financial assistance to help protect jobs and workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic through the Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE). Moreover, special financial support exists for Eastern countries and Western Balkans
- European Commission re-directing €47.5 million to research actions on Coronavirus and more
- Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services as well as guidelines to ensure the free movement of critical workers.
The EU is also working on coordinating actions, expertise and know-how to avoid uncoordinated/contradictory responses. This includes the creation of an advisory panel on COVID-19 to anticipate events and draft guidelines and regular contact between different Member State ministries, including employment and social affairs ministers.
EASPD recommendations to European Union
The spread of COVID-19 will create major challenges for social service provision in several ways. With this in mind EASPD and the European Aging Network (EAN) have written an open letter to European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, to highlight that the provision of essential social care and support services to millions of older persons, persons with disabilities, children and other vulnerable persons in Europe is under threat following the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to this letter, EASPD has identified a number of priorities the EU should consider in response to COVID-19 regarding threat to Social Service provision.
EASPD Facebook page
To support its members at this time, EASPD has created this closed Facebook Group, in which you can:
- Raise your concerns as service providers
- Share the measures that you are implementing to ensure the safety of your staff and users while continuing to provide services to those in need of support.
- Access Easy to Read materials which can be used by you to inform you users of the basic preventative measures that they can take to protect themselves from the virus.
To join the group, click here
EASPD Help Desk
Now more than ever, European cooperation is needed to exchange with your peers, to seek new solutions, to request help and support in your lobbying activities, to raise concerns which may impact others later and to ensure that the European Union machinery is supportive of your activities. EASPD has launced a COVID-19 HELP DESK to provide additional support to our members during the pandemic. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Each week EASPD will hold a webinar, which will bring together experts and support services providers to discuss the key issues affecting the sector during the COVID-19 outbreak
- 18th March: Health needs of persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic To view the recording of this webinar click here
- 25th March: Ensuring Staff Continuity in Social Services during the COVID-19 pandemic To view the recording of this webinar click here
- 1st April: Adapting services for persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic To view the recording of this webinar click here
- 8th April: The role of funding for support service providers in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic To view the recording of this webinar click here
- 15th April: Support services and informal carers: The importance of partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic To view the recording of this webinar click here
- 22nd April Service providers moving to online support during the COVID-19 pandemic To view the recording of this webinar click here
- 29th April: Support provision and ethical procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic To view the recording of this webinar click here
- 13th May: EASPD Webinar: Re-launching support services during the lifting of confinement rules To view the recording of this webinar click here
- 20th May: Creative connections during COVID-19 To view the recording of this webinar click here
- 27th May: EASPD Webinar: Ensuring access to education during COVID-19 To view a recording of this webinar click here
EASPD Press Releases
- Social services at risk of being left aside during COVID-19 spread French, German, Spanish, Italian and Greek
- EU invisible on social emergency of COVID-19 French, German, Spanish and Italian
- New EU COVID response brings no guarantees for social services French, Spanish and Italian
- 47 MEPs: Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative must fund support services for persons with disabilities French, Spanish Italian, German
- Message for Public Authorities: partner with civil society to improve COVID-19 response
- Social services go digital during COVID-19
- New Snapshot Report: Impact of COVID-19 on Disability Services in Europe.
- Top EU officials organise constructive exchange on social services during COVID-19
- No to the discrimination of persons with disabilities in triage
- Prioritize the Employment of Persons with Disabilities in the economic response to COVID-19
- Social services call on EU to uphold the rights and health of staff and users in next phase of COVID-19 response
- World Health Organisation guidance on Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus
- European Commission webpage on Coronavirus response
- Easy to read information on the Coronavirus by Inclusion Europe
- European Disability Forum Resource Page
- Council of Europe Statement: Persons with disabilities must not be left behind in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic