Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Confidence within the EU increasing despite Brexit

Support for key perceptions of the European Union is showing a strong increase among the majority of EU citizens despite  –  or perhaps partly because of –  Britain’s shambolic efforts to leave.
The overall approval rating among respondents in a survey conducted in all 28 member states before the European parliamentary elections in May this year showed a peak last recorded between the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and approval of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. 
Since autumn 2018, the proportion of respondents with a positive image of the EU has increased in 23 member states, including Portugal, where it has climbed seven percentage points and now stands at 60%. 
The findings of an EU Barometer post-election survey published last week show “the best results in five years”. Many people now trust the EU more than their own national government or parliament. This trust level is topped by 72% of respondents in Lithuania and 68% in Denmark.  Portugal, with 57%, is sixth on the trust table.
A strong sense of optimism prevails across Europe, most notably in Ireland, where 85% of those questioned felt upbeat about the future of the eurozone.
Within the eurozone, confidence in the euro has weighed in at a new record high of 76%; and in the EU as a whole remains at 62%. 
A large majority of respondents (81%) agree with the free movement that allows EU citizens to live, work, study or do business in any country they choose within the Union.
Significant variations emerge when respondents were questioned about the situation of their own national economy. Almost half of the respondents are happy with the situation:  e.g. Luxembourg (94%), Denmark (91%), Netherlands (90%), Germany (83%) and Sweden (80%). The results for Ireland and the United Kingdom were 75% and 41%, respectively. 
Respondents from several other countries, however, regard their national economy as “bad”; especially in Greece, where an approval rating of only 7% was registered. The equivalent in France is 29% and in Croatia, Bulgaria and Italy the percentage is in the lower twenties. 
Also in the recent survey, many other interesting statistics emerged from face-to-face interviews with around 27,500 citizens in the 28 member states. 
The number one concern remains immigration (34%), although this has dropped six percentage points since last year's survey. Meanwhile there has been a six percentage point increase, to 22%, in what has become the number two concern: climate change.
It’s beyond the scope of EU Barometer surveys to speculate on any correlation between migration and climate change, but it’s likely that the widespread movement of people in the years ahead will be closely related to global warming. Well-documented rising sea levels, devastating flooding, more common extreme weather conditions and ultimate desertification may alter or destroy traditional food production and fundamental lifestyles to the point where there will be no feasible alternative to large-scale migration, not only from Africa into Europe but also from southern Europe northwards.  
The European Union has been in the forefront of deliberations on these dangers, with the Paris Agreement and more recent deliberations in Bonn and Geneva. 
All in all, in the wake of two devastating world wars and a global financial crisis, there is a sense of togetherness in Europe that may long outlive the self-indulgent determination of those in Britain who want out – deal or no deal – on 31 October.  

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The cost of care for the elderly

Care for the elderly within an aging population is an ever growing challenge, but quality services are already in place in the Algarve for visitors and permanent residents from abroad, as well as local citizens  –  at a significant cost.  
The various services include assistance from unofficial carers, registered caring agencies, retirement homes and sheltered communities with nursing facilities.
The Portuguese have traditionally looked after their own elderly within their family circles.  This is partly due to their culture, as well as costs and a state system with poor resources.  Foreigners who have not worked in this country and paid into the social security system are obliged to return to their country of origin or seek private care.
With people generally living longer and illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia increasingly on the rise, private care has become all the more vital. 
Competent help at home can be best obtained through reliable personal recommendations. 
Arrangements to help those with physical or mental impairments can range from a few hours a day a few days a week, to round-the-clock full-time in extreme cases.
The current normal hourly rate for informal daytime care is €10; less overnight. That means that round-the-clock care can reach  €6,000 or more a month.
Registered agencies charge more – typically €12.50, €15 or even €17 an hour during the day – in providing a wide range of home services all over the region using networks of fully trained associate nurses and carers.    
A cheaper option for those in need of full-time care would be a partially state-funded retirement home. Full-board in a single room – if you can find one –  may cost  €1,900 a month, not including medications or special medical treatment.
By contrast, the Madrugada charitable organisation, founded in the western Algarve in 2009, offers palliative care free of charge. Most of its patients affected by a life-limiting illness  are located in its main operational area, between Lagoa and Budens. 

Dependant on fund-raising events, donations and charity shops,  Madrugada’s  clinical team provide care to those who prefer to spend their remaining days in their own home.

Madrugada say the criteria for receiving home care considers the patient’s wishes, the clinical indications, the suitability of the home environment for safe and effective nursing care, the willingness of the patient’s family and current medical team to work in tandem with their professional team.
Special care equipment is made available to ensure that patients remain as safe and as comfortable as possible.
In addition to palliative care, Madrugada provides more normal hourly or daily services with carers looking after patients at home.

Another unique organisation in the Algarve but in a very different setting is the Monte de Palhagueira sheltered community. Comprising a village of 33 privately-owned properties next to a 20-room nursing home, it's located in a beautiful hillside setting at Gorj├┤es,  a 20-minute drive from Faro Airport. 

Other features interspersed by landscaped gardens and  connected by tranquil lanes include an Anglican Church, a restaurant, a tennis court, two swimming pools and an ornamental lake.
The village properties are all different in size and shape, costing from £90,000 for a one-bedroom apartment to £340,000  for a three-bedroom, two-storey villa.
Properties seldom come on the market and when they do, those already living in the community or on a waiting list have first choice. 

The nursing home costs at Monte de Palhagueira depend on the size of the room and the level of care, but are between €1,100 and €1,350 per week.

Whichever of the above options is most appropriate, two important points, especially for foreign residents to bear in mind, are the likely need to plan well ahead and the volatility of foreign exchange rates.

Monte de Palhagueira