Why are so many nursing homes understaffed

Emergency in nursing homes - The nursing emergency has resulted in more deaths

At Christmas, many people will visit their relatives in retirement and care facilities. A Deutschlandfunk interview with a representative of the German Care Council now brings to light how poorly politicians support the care facilities in this challenge.

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Ralf Hanselle is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Cicero.

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The nursing homes are the neuralgic points of the pandemic. This is not a new finding, and yet the protection of the old and the weak seems to be at a shameful level even in the twelfth month after the first outbreak of Covid 19 disease in Germany. Figures that were presented in Berlin on Tuesday, for example, show that more than every second corona death in the German capital was a nursing home resident. Worse, at the beginning of this month there were 224 nursing home deaths since the spring, now there are 492. In other words: In just a few days, the number of deaths in the facilities has doubled. And in other federal states the numbers are no better. Hesse, for example, already reported in November that two thirds of the deaths affected old people's homes.

In the midst of all these depressing reports, an interview falls, which also and especially for the Christmas days does not give hope for anything good: Ulrike Döring, responsible for care for the elderly in the professional association of the German Nursing Council (DPR), explains to Deutschlandfunk when asked that it is "at all It is inconceivable “that on Christmas Eve the already overworked nursing staff in the old people's and nursing homes could carry out quick tests for the visitors. With such an additional effort for the carers, who have long been working at the limit, the resident supply can no longer be secured, so there must be urgent solutions from outside.

A loneliness Christmas threatens

So is the wish to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel on November 26th. said in front of the German Bundestag that Christmas should not be “a Christmas of loneliness”, was thought from the beginning as pious, but in no way as realistic? What Ulrike Döring describes in the further course of the interview reveals a political inertia that can only be described with the word “negligent”. The German Nursing Council had pointed out for a long time that at Christmas they needed helpers from the Bundeswehr or from employees of aid organizations for the rapid tests that are now finally available. There should be urgent regulations from the federal states in this matter. A register is needed for the facilities, in which it is listed where one can get such assistants.

The word that Döring says most often this morning is “urgent”. A look at the calendar finally reveals that Christmas should already take place in six days. And in all likelihood, the nightmare in the German care facilities will not stop even after the festival. According to Döring, the shortage of staff will also be reflected in the vaccinations due after Christmas. Here, too, outside help is needed: “We cannot also instruct the specialists to vaccinate and then also vaccinate ourselves. Vaccination teams have to come. ”The employees are already at their limit, have to work overtime all the time and cannot recover at all. “Something can collapse,” says Döring.

A look at the dark side of society

Anyone who listens to this almost apocalyptic warning call will hardly believe it: Corona relentlessly reveals where the shadows and dead corners of our society have been for years: In summer we looked at the inferno in the slaughterhouses, at cheap meat and the miserable conditions below which foreign contract workers in particular live and work in this country. Now, as in the spring, it is again the old and the weakest.

The condition in nursing homes has been known for years. In 2019, for example, the commercial health insurance company in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania reported that a lack of staff and overtime in connection with low remuneration had massive health and psychological consequences for the nursing staff. At that time, one fifth of all sick leave in the northern federal state was for workers in the nursing profession. Techniker Krankenkasse came to similar results: The tenor of both insurances: Nursing staff are sick more often and for longer than other occupational groups, the stresses in the nursing professions are particularly on the psyche.

More deaths due to too few carers

Care emergency is therefore not a term that society only had to get used to in the Corona year 2020. It almost seems to have become a kind of sad tradition in the German health care system. "We have completely inadequate job assessment, and therefore too few positions," said Ulrike Döring, who confirmed to Deutschlandfunk that Corona had broken into an already overloaded situation.

And then Ulrike Döring reveals the real dilemma: When asked whether better staffing in the nursing homes could have prevented corona deaths, there is initially only a short pause. You can literally hear how the representative of the nursing professions is summoning up all her courage. And then she says a single word: "Yes".

The numbers are shocking

There is another longer pause. There is a break in which to sort yourself: You suddenly think of the 30 to 40 percent of the population who, according to Health Minister Jens Spahn, belonged to the corona risk group. A number that allegedly made it impossible for the federal government to take adequate protective measures during the summer months. One thinks of the "only" six-digit number of those Germans who are housed in nursing homes and who account for more than 50 percent of the corona deaths. Fortunately, Döring breaks the oppressive silence at some point. The staff shortage, she now says with an almost regretful undertone, meant that, especially at the beginning, one often did not even notice when people were infected.

Perhaps, so the hope is that, after the pandemic, people will talk about how much suffering is due to fate and how much is due to the negligence that has been saved up for years. Until then, we should think about how we can keep the old and the weak out of harm's way.

You can listen to the interview here.

Werner Peters | Fri, December 18, 2020 - 5:26 pm

Heard the interview this morning. It shows the complete failure of Ms. Merkel and the country leaders, above all the pseudo-dynamic Mr. Söder. The old people have been ignored. I could say even more cynically now, but I prefer to spare us that. In return, Ms. Merkel was celebrated by the media for her oh so "emotional" speech in the BT.

Ronald Lehmann | Sat, December 19, 2020 - 12:25 pm

In reply to Complete Failure by Werner Peters

My perception of "complete failure" started at E. Hermann / Kerner, where a formerly respected spokeswoman was ostracized because she saw the family (!!!) & the mother-child bond as the foundation of happiness. We know how it ends & the loudest still crow today, don't even touch these books, let alone read them.
Before I start my thoughts ...., first of all a THANK YOU to ALL care .... 💐, who fill (s) their vocation full of love and commitment for people. God protect you.
My mother died of / with Corona at an old age (before that, a small heating fact). After the 1st lockdown we had a very long and intensive conversation.
In short: In any case, an older, mentally fit person cannot cope if he is "only" waiting for food and bed (a lot for caregivers ...). It's like an old steam locomotive on the siding (museum - mummy).
But I'm afraid that everything has to run aground before new / old thoughts can be found. 🧐

Gabriele Bondzio | Fri, December 18, 2020 - 5:44 pm

Imagine what everything could have been done to care for the elderly with money that was “senselessly” junked in the sand.
Exactly that age group lives in the nursing homes, the death rate of which terrifies many citizens. What was already a mess before Corona could have been improved and the nursing homes could easily be secured with new technology and more staff.
But as you can read from Mr Hanselle's, not much has happened there. Although the knowledge was there from the beginning.
And imagine how much fear there could be in an old person, about the whole situation, being separated from their loved ones and maybe dying. Getting old in DE, ... maybe standing there alone, is becoming more and more sensitive due to the age pyramid and the bottlenecks in care (even without Corona).

Reinhardt O. Cornelius-Hahn | Fri, December 18, 2020 - 6:06 pm

... it seems to me as if it is a method or a system. The old white men, the granny eco-pig and the vehement hatred of the old people, who are supposed to be responsible for Nazi Germany and the eco-problem, is systemic in the lecture. Desperate people try to find excuses on the government benches. Today I read on Facebook one of the "usual" conspiracy theories about allegedly 16,000 additional deaths due to neglect in the ordering system of those responsible for the vaccine, because 800 die every day and will therefore be the additional victim. But that's the way it is. I watch my beloved Germany with suspicion and realize: inability, addiction to control (GDR), ... you talk about facts, but you practice ideology. How did it get to the point where they celebrate greed and parasitic tendencies in parliaments? Politics, capable of anything, of no use. WHO fires these politicians? Tested, capable and clever minds are destroyed biographically.

Ernst-Günther Konrad | Sat, December 19, 2020 - 9:34 am

In reply to That goes far beyond negligence ... by Reinhardt O. C ...

I fully agree with your comment. Your impression might well be worth researching about. Inadequate facilities for elderly care, both logistically and personally, high mortality rate since time immemorial, long before Corona, precisely because of the deliberate system deficiency, what is the end result?
Fewer old people who receive a pension and whose contributions have long exceeded the self-financed portion. Relief of the long-term care insurance. Cynical cost minimization and at the same time "relaxed" policy on the elderly, because the more people die, the less one needs to invest in this area. Do you think maybe? But more and more people in need of care will be joining us, this is due to our demographics and the fact that hardly anyone is able to care for the elderly at home. No more large families, not infrequently the children and grandchildren live far away, no space in the house, compulsion to double work to secure one's own livelihood. Dignified and without rights in the home. DE 2020.

Wolfgang Tröbner | Sat, December 19, 2020 - 11:38 am

In reply to That goes far beyond negligence ... by Reinhardt O. C ...

The word got around that a special strategy is being pursued in Tübingen to protect old people's and nursing homes from Corona. And very successfully. Tübingen is the only city in Germany where there are hardly any infections in the homes and no corona-related deaths have occurred so far. In the last few days I have seen the emergency doctor Lisa Federle, who developed this strategy, on television several times. One could now assume that Ms. Federle would be supported by the authorities. The opposite is the case. If you listened to her correctly, Ms. Federle was not only not supported for a long time, but also massively disabled. So much for the official claim that they want to protect the old people's homes in particular. This is pure propaganda.

Christa Wallau | Fri, December 18, 2020 - 6:26 pm

Yes, that's right: Corona only brings to light what has long been known and apparently not a good one
in the government has ever really touched / interested: The care of the elderly is, on average, miserable! The care capacity / time per person in need of care is set far too low!
There is a lack of care for the individual, i. H. there is a lack of caregivers who have sufficient time to really look after each and every one of them. In addition, geriatric care workers are poorly paid compared to other social professions! From the experience of our son, who works in a nursing home, I know: Due to the constantly high sick leave, every shift is still understaffed !!!
This has to change immediately, otherwise one can only pass a judgment on DE:
Old people who "carried" this country for decades and who raised their children and grandchildren are less worthy of today's German society than anyone who walked along !!!

Gerhard Lenz | Sat, December 19, 2020 - 10:27 am

In reply to The nursing care emergency for the elderly has been around for a long time! by Christa Wallau

Suddenly everyone is appalled by the conditions in old people's and nursing homes. Low wages and miserable working conditions have long been known there.
Left of center parties have long been demanding higher pay for these people. Furthermore, working conditions are to be improved, if necessary by qualifying migrants.

Who is - of course - against it?

How was that again when the minimum wage was introduced? It was called: Socialism, GDR 2.0 the usual nagging of the constant complainers.
Because of every conspicuous migrant, the AfD runs on the street. But commitment to the medical professions? Zero!

And anyway, the black zero, here and there any share prices, were much more important.

Now one is so outraged! At the same time, one disregards the achievements of doctors and nurses by playing down or even denying Corona.

Yes, even consciously tolerated that the disease can spread further, see Leipzig etc.

Jens Böhme | Fri, December 18, 2020 - 6:49 pm

Average life expectancy increases year after year. The long-term care insurance contribution remains stable and low. The health system is booming. Nursing professions are poorly paid because, economically, the income never caps the expenses and, moreover, nursing is absolutely not a dream job because it is very difficult. I think Corona shows us the limits of average life expectancy. That more people die in the cooler seasons should be known and should not panic an enlightened society.

Heidemarie Heim | Fri, December 18, 2020 - 6:51 pm

If it wasn't as macabre as it was sad in the "dead corners" of our society. Shocked? Personally, I haven't preferred Mr. Hanselle for a long time. At most, equipped with a healthy portion of gallows humor, as is incidentally many in the care sector. As Zsa Zsa Gabor said: "Getting old is not for cowards!" We are all getting older and older, but at the end of our life we ​​end up in a double room or, if better off, in a single room instead of in a quiet little room as we used to be. Full, clean, dry and alone most of the time. The mandatory visitors come on the holidays. At other times I could count these on one hand in the 2 facilities I worked in myself. What gives such a comforting impression in the photo above, I would have liked to have done more often. If the tight roster had allowed it, to put it mildly. Do you know how it feels if you are not completely numb in the job? Kind regards

Hans Jürgen Wienroth | Fri, December 18, 2020 - 7:04 pm

A very good article. If you add those infected and died during home care to the 50% deaths from nursing homes, this number becomes even higher.

Bernd Muhlack | Fri, December 18, 2020 - 7:31 pm

The interview is still pending, I just read the text.

Yes, I am recruiting, once again trying my KH stays since 2017 - multiple reasons.

When I see this somewhat "experienced" hand of a fellow human being, then I immediately think of blood samples that were taken almost every hour at that time.
"Mr. BM, sorry, that hurts myself, totally hard veins!" - "All right!"
The "dumbest" thing is when there is no blood!
Oh yes ...

I have been quite familiar with our KH system since 2017, they know each other / me!
Even in these two rather rural clinics, employees from everywhere - "You have to have good people, good people!" (THE BOAT - Der Kaleu).

Yes, I always ask about the origin!
Eritrea? Vietnam? Upper Franconia?
I have a very high "hit rate" u ALL laugh, are friendly, competent!

WE, that is to say, these "professionally affected" people, make it difficult for us to live together ourselves!

I would very much like to describe an experience with the intern Aysche, possibly.can I deliver it later; that was great.

Bernd Muhlack | Sat, December 19, 2020 - 3:56 pm

In reply to OUTSTANDING! AAA +++ 👍👍👍 by Bernd Muhlack

"Mr. BM, this is Aysche, an intern"
"Hello, my name is Aysche!"
She looked like the old nuns from the stories of Grandma, Mothers.
Aysche, a veiled pavement swallow. However, a noble, expensive, cream-colored headscarf - and make-up like Sawsan Chebli.
Yes, she wants to become a nurse, that's why the internship.
We often had a very good conversation, the older white man and the young Muslim woman on the URO 4 - remarkable.
She was 17 years old and came from Aleppo; no, she doesn't want to go back.
I told her about Koblenz, my home town, which was totally destroyed at the time.
That is bad, but here the people are just different!
Verily Aysche!
She has indeed started this training, good luck!

Exactly such "migrants" are very welcome - "Others" NEVER need!

Care emergency - dilapidated streets / schools etc?
There is enough money!
"WE" stand in the way of "US" ourselves - talk everything dead.

... and meanwhile criticism is "anti-democratic"

Alice Friedrich | Sat, December 19, 2020 - 9:04 am

If you google "yield in nursing homes and old people's homes", the connection between the "shameful level" and the current form of neoliberal capitalism quickly becomes clear. Heretical thoughts come to me, being absolutely no conspiracy theorist! If the number of deaths among the elderly were NOT in the statistics, it would be difficult to build fear or at least respect for this virus. And a second consideration also frightens me: With such inadequate protective measures over a long period of time, I naturally ask myself about the Root cause. Stupidity? Hm ..., indifference and nonchalance or even intention?

Ernst-Günther Konrad | Sat, December 19, 2020 - 9:21 am

Everything that was said in the interview and what was only hinted at "hearing" between the lines confirms my view. Never in a retirement and nursing home. We have advance directives, de children know what we want. I have known everything Ms. Döring says for a long time. Why? My sister-in-law, the former geriatric nurse, has given up and is a nurse again. Your daughter, which is my niece, nurse, forewarned, does not want to go to care for the elderly. Ms. Döring provides the reasons. Has anyone ever asked the old people what they want?
Do they want to starve there alone despite having relatives? Do they want to be vaccinated? Do they want to be treated inhumanely because the staff is missing? The elderly were supposedly given special protection from the start with all sorts of measures. Visiting bans, tests, no social contacts. I wonder why they all die of the virus anyway? Don't they also die of their age, their previous illness, being alone?