About: Monika Hunjadi

Organisation: European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research

Assistant International and Public Relations

Contributions

The impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities across Europe

Persons with disabilities are among the most affected groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) recently reported that the pandemic continues to affect the provision of essential services such as education, healthcare, community-based support and transport for persons with disabilities.

Magdi Birtha, European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research 

The Coronavirus outbreak still presents a major challenge at national and local levels across the EU and beyond. Persons with disabilities are among the most affected groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) recently reported that the pandemic continues to affect the provision of essential services such as education, healthcare, community-based support and transport for persons with disabilities. Children with disabilities are facing particular barriers when it comes to accessing education and support, including challenges to take part in distance learning, without their assistants. In some countries, FRA noted that physical, occupational, speech and language therapy services for children with disabilities were suspended (e.g. in Malta) (FRA, 2020).

Service provision for persons with disabilities

Similarly, to the devastating impact of the pandemic on older people in residential homes, persons with disabilities who are living in institutional settings also face increased mortality rate due to COVID-19. For example, in Romania, 10% of the total COVID-related death were of persons with disabilities living in institutional care (FRA, 2020). While the majority of residential care facilities for persons with disabilities remained open during the outbreak, the service delivery had to be re-organised significantly, for instance by longer working hours for staff, operate with reduced staff (family duties, sick leave, burnout, resignations, etc.) and face additional administration (EASPD, 2020). Measures to ban visitations have been in place, in order to protect residents and limit the risk of contagion, often leading to isolation and difficulties to maintain contact with family members. The strict confinement measures and diversion from the routine may have negative impact on the well-being and mental health of persons with disabilities, thus the use of digital communication technologies or safe visitation forms are of key importance (EASPD, 2020).

Social and health care services, provided in the community or in-home have been suspended during the pandemic, leaving many persons with disabilities without access to essential services. As FRA reports, this includes cut-backs on personal assistance (e.g. in Slovakia), cancelling rehabilitation services (e.g. in Estonia) and the lack of access to psychosocial services (e.g. in Austria) (FRA, 2020). The European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) reported that in 18 European countries, home care services were provided mostly online, during the pandemic, leaving thousands of people without adequate support (EASPD, 2020). The suspension of home-care services also put additional pressure on family members who needed to fill this gap and provide more informal care.

In general, there was little coordination or exchange of experiences or good practices within the care sector, or at national and European level.

Involvement of persons with disabilities in COVID-19 responses

Evidence shows that the voice of persons with disabilities was mostly absent from discussions on how to best respond to the crisis (FRA, 2020). The European Disability Forum, an umbrella organisation of persons with disabilities that defends the interests of over 100 million persons with disabilities in Europe, published several resources in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities.

They provide recommendations to authorities, for instance on exit measures for transport services, in light of COVID-19 or on how to make public health communication accessible for persons with disabilities. EDF called authorities across Europe to put non-discriminatory measures in place, i.e. when health care professionals cannot provide the same level of care to everyone due to the lack of equipment or underfunding.

How to recover from the impact of COVID-19?

The economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still not fully assessed and will largely depend on the developments in the coming months, concerning a potential second wave. EASPD closely monitors the impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities and on the care sector. The EU has launched several recovery programmes for EU Member States, but there are also some instruments available for countries in the Western Balkans and in the Eastern Partnership. EASPD organised a webinar on 17 June 2020, dedicated to these COVID-19 EU funding opportunities for non-EU Member States, including:

Resources:

EASPD (2020), The impact of Covid-19 on disability services in Europe, EASPD Snapshot report, available here

EU Fundamental Rights Agency (2020), Bulletin #3: Coronavirus pandemic in the EU – Fundamental rights implications: with a focus on older people, available here

Civil Society Facility and Media Programme 2018- 2019: Support to Active Citizenship in Albania, Deadline: 17 July 2020

This Call for Proposals aims to support active, critical and constructive citizenship in the public debate, particularly at local level.

European Commission, Civil Society Facility and Media Programme 2018- 2019: Support to Active Citizenship in Albania

This Call for Proposals aims to support active, critical and constructive citizenship in the public debate, particularly at local level. There is a strong need to leverage on the expert knowledge of civil society in specific sectors by providing unique knowledge and experience to shape policy and strategy, and identifying and building solutions, as well as play the role of enabler in driving change in collaboration with other stakeholders such as business community, media, social partners etc. Participation in those decisions and policies requires appropriate processes and mechanisms of communication and exchange of information and expertise, such as interactive frameworks, creating safe processes of dialogue, develop skills, engagement and close work with media, exchanging good practices and professional knowledge, expanding civic participation, particularly of women and youth.

Any grant requested under this call for proposals must fall between the minimum amount of EUR 850,000 and the maximum amount: EUR 1,700,000.

The Lead Partner and co-partners must be legal not-for-profit organizations established in an EU or accession country to the EU and be free of political affiliations. At least 1 (one) of the co-applicant(s) must be legally established in Albania.

Deadline for submission of concept notes: 17 July 2020 at 16:00 (Brussels date and time)

Please read further details here

Report: From Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria via Slovenia: migration and posting of third country nationals in the EU by S. Danaj, L. Geyer, S. Cukut Krilić, K. Toplak, & M. Vah Jevšnik

The report focuses on the specific regional labour mobility patterns between Bosnia and Her zegovina (BiH) as a third country, Slovenia as a sending country, and Austria as a receiving country.

In this new study conducted in the frame of the project Con3Post– Posting of Third Country Nationals. Mapping the trend in the construction sector, our colleagues Sonila Danaj and Leonard Geyer in collaboration with the colleagues Sanja Cukut Krilić, Kristina Toplak & Mojca Vah Jevšnik of the ZRC SAZU – Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Slovenia investigate the main characteristics of the trend of posting third country nationals to work in the EU construction sector. The report focuses on the specific regional labour mobility patterns between Bosnia and Her zegovina (BiH) as a third country, Slovenia as a sending country, and Austria as a receiving country. Read more

Balkan Barometer 2020: Covid-19 impact assessment by RCC

Following the annual issue of the Balkan Barometer survey, the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) initiated additional analysis to observe more closely sentiments and perceptions of the general public and the business community in the context of recent developments deriving from COVID-19. In this respect, RCC engaged in data collection and data processing as a basis for snap-shot analysis of the attitudes, experiences and perceptions on the recent developments in six economies. Read more

Policy Brief: The Western Balkans in Times of the Global Pandemic by Bieber et al.

The global COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken by governments around the world constitute a major rupture to the “business as usual”, and this includes the Western Balkans, too. The pandemic has been overshadowing other developments while also accelerating existing trends, and it will continue to do so. This analysis establishes the COVID-19 pandemic as a critical juncture, a crisis that can permanently shake up institutions and societies. There are considerable dangers beyond the impact of the pandemic on human lives, ranging from an economic crisis which could turn out to be worse than the one in 2008/9, to a heightened crisis of democracy and a geopolitical shift. None of these developments are inevitable and some of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for the Western Balkans can be mitigated. By exploring nine critical fields, this analysis will highlight ways in which the pandemic and government responses pose particular challenges: 1. The Role of the State, 2. Democracy and State Capture, 3. Geopolitical Shifts,4. New Nationalisms, 5. Social Resilience, 6. Environmental Impact, 7. Migration and Health Care, 8. Health Care and Social Security and 9. Economic Implications. With regard to all of the critical fields, the study examines the impact and outlines possible risks and opportunities before identifying specific interventions that could prevent the worst consequences for the region. Read more

Book: Migration from the Newly Independent States by M. Denisenko, S. Strozza, M. Light (eds)

This book discusses international migration in the newly independent states after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which involved millions of people. Written by authors from 15 countries, it summarizes the population movement over the post-Soviet territories, both within the newly independent states and in other countries over the past 25 years. Read more

Journal article: Partnerships for the Goals: beyond SDG 17 by L. Stott and A. Scoppetta

The article positions partnership as central to meeting the targets of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals that make up the United Nations Agenda for 2030 with Goal 17, ‘Partnerships for the Goals’, often described as pivotal to the transformational efforts required for its realisation.

The article positions partnership as central to meeting the targets of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals that make up the United Nations Agenda for 2030 with Goal 17, ‘Partnerships for the Goals’, often described as pivotal to the transformational efforts required for its realisation. In view of this, Goal 17’s limited vision of partnership and its potential contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is disappointing. This article suggests that partnership needs to be articulated as a more vibrant vehicle for supporting the transformations needed to attain the Goals. This requires acknowledgement of the need for deeper multi-level and multi-actor relationships; the promotion of collective accountability for achieving the SDGs; and a stronger evidence base for partnership policy-making with more robust mutual exchange and learning. Read more

Online session: Global Dialogues on Partnership, 7 July, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM CEST

You’re invited to join Dr Leda Stott and Michelle Halse during the first session of the “Global Dialogues on Partnership” to discuss reframing SDG17 so it’s fit for transformation.

A recent article by Anette Scoppetta and Leda Stott suggests:
“Agenda 2030 requires a much broader and more vibrant vision of partnership than that afforded by SDG 17, [Partnerships for the Goals] with greater attention to how different collaborative forms and processes might
support the systemic change needed to achieve the SDGs.” Read the article here

You’re invited to join Dr Leda Stott and Michelle Halse during the first session of the “Global Dialogues on Partnership” to discuss reframing SDG17 so it’s fit for transformation. Book here

EaSI call: Establishing and testing integrated interventions aimed at supporting people in (the most) vulnerable situations, Deadline: 15 October 2020

This call for proposals aims to support existing or new partnerships in testing innovative approaches supporting in particular the delivery of Principle 14 of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

This call for proposals aims to support existing or new partnerships in testing innovative approaches supporting in particular the delivery of Principle 14 of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The call will support innovative and experimental local/regional-level projects aimed at putting in place comprehensive strategies, mechanisms and services ensuring a holistic approach to support people in (the most) vulnerable situations.

EESPN countries that can participate in the call include EU Member States, Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

The deadline for the call is: 15 October 2020.

Please read the details here

Journal article: Theory and practice of aging upon covid-19 pandemic by A. Sidorenko & A. Golubev

Never before in history aging has been such a significant factor for epidemics as it is now for the current COVID-19 pandemic, which features a drastic shift of mortality towards older ages. Our analysis of data on COVID-19-related mortality in Spain, Italy, and Sweden has shown that, in the range of 30 to 90 years of age, each dependency of the logarithm of mortality upon age is linear, and all regression lines are strictly parallel to those related to the total mortality in accordance with the Gompertz law. In all cases, irrespective of the stage and place of epidemic, mortality doubling time in this age range is close to 7,5 years. The rates of being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and of being diagnosed due to the symptomatic manifestations of the infection are dependent on age to a far lesser degree. With account for these observations, three messages are put forth:

1) Older persons are the principal victims of both SARSCoV-2 and measures undertaken to control its spread;

2) Older persons are not the principal driving force of SARS-CoV-2 spread;

3) Older persons can and should be engaged in combating the pandemic and its consequences; however, not via selective social distancing and other discriminative measures.

People aged over 65 years constitute a significant part of the current population. They have specific interests and needs, which deserve no less respect than those of any other age group. This includes the right for the quality of life that remains sustained under the emergency conditions. Since the prospects for controlling the SARS-CoV-2 are dubious, those in charge of decisions concerning «people aged above 65» should mind that currently, unlike in the medieval ages, 65+ is the individual future of almost everyone.