Care for the elderly in Italy: preventing non-self-sufficiency from a young age and shortage of nurses among the main data

4th Long-Term Care Observatory Report by Cergas Bocconi


The annual Report on Long-Term Care by Cergas Bocconi and Essity, shedding light on the state of the art of the LTC sector in Italy, has been presented.


There is a serious shortage of nurses: according to RSA managers, they lack 26% of these professionals.


Young people who were asked about this issue for the first time admitted that they worry about not being self-sufficient in the future and would like to look into prevention behaviors.


Greater unity, system investments, choice of strategic partners and a network approach are the priorities for the future of the sector.


People are beginning to take the risk of becoming non-self-sufficient into consideration from a young age, and getting organized in time is increasingly becoming a priority. For the first time, the 4th Long-Term Care Observatory Report by Cergas Bocconi – Essity surveyed young people with an average age of 37 to find out what they think about non-self-sufficiency and the Long-Term Care sector. According to data in the Report, 54% are prepared to get organized in advance to face the risk of non-self-sufficiency, and adopt preventive measures. They look to the world of healthcare and their peers for information, while social-healthcare management entities/organizations are not being considered. This shows a change in the attitude of Italians that should encourage organizations to think about prevention and early engagement

services, both to meet these new needs of individuals and lighten the load of the public welfare system, so opening up a wider market to the private sector.


The 4th Long-Term Care Observatory Report by Cergas Bocconi – Essity photographs the elderly care sector in Italy and highlights a shortage of key figures. Italian RCFs (Residential Care Facilities) are lacking 26% of nurses, 18% of doctors and 13% of UAP, due to a structural lack of professional figures and competition between the healthcare and the social-healthcare sectors in attracting new recruits. This is likely to undermine services and growth in the sector. In addition, 100% of participating RCF managers say that managing existing employees is hard due to staff shortages at a national level (94%), motivation (56%) and burn out (38%).


When it comes to Long-Term Care in Italy, there are plenty of success stories, and the Report contains no less than 24 of them, coming from four open innovation areas. According to data presented, some players aim to strengthen the organization through training and corporate culture and some exploit technology, while others experiment with new ways of taking care of dementia and Alzheimer’s or new service models to get rid of the traditional RCF model and overcome its inherent limits. According to RCF managers, these innovations can be achieved provided there is in-house expertise (64% of respondents) and availability of data and monitoring systems (56%). This confirms how key personnel and information systems are to the success of the Long-Term Care sector.


According to the promoters of the Report, there are some guidelines which it is important to follow in order to guarantee effective assistance to those who need it and to relieve pressure on the Long Term-Care sector, especially when we consider that companies in the sector lost 6.2% of turnover in 2020. This data started to improve last year, but testifies to the need for rethinking and supporting the system. In this respect, it is also important that managers revert to valuable partners that can support them in the management of cost-consumption and services.


Elisabetta Notarnicola, Associate Professor of Practice, Government, Health and Not for Profit Division at SDA Bocconi School of Management and coordinator of the Report, stated: “For years now, we have been stressing that the Long-Term Care sector must set up for change, both as a system and in the services it offers. Today, we also have data about the perceptions of families that confirm that they are ready for a different vision of care. Contextual conditions are also favorable, with greater dynamism and investments than in the past, thanks in part to the PNRR. Companies in the sector are trying to innovate, as shown by the success stories that we have collected in the Report, but how can we expect them to succeed if the main crucial success factor, namely personnel, is lacking? Without people, change cannot come.”


Massimo Minaudo, CEO of Essity Italia, added: “Care for non-self-sufficient people must become a priority in this country, considering the rising interest of an increasingly young age group. The Long-Term Care Observatory Report by Cergas Bocconi and Essity gives us valuable indications for bringing new energy to such a vital sector in the life of our country. To this effect, greater unity and coordination are essential in order to identify a directing subject and to create a unitary information system. By following the guidelines highlighted in the Report, the Long-Term Care sector will be able to respond to the needs of non-self-sufficient individuals and their families in an increasingly effective way.”



SDA Bocconi School of Management

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