Why are nursing homes so unoccupied

Skilled labor shortage : There are many causes of care shortages

Problem recognized, remedy announced: “In an immediate program, we will create 8,000 new specialist positions in connection with medical treatment care in nursing homes.” This is what the coalition agreement says. That sounds good, especially since “the immediate program will be followed by further steps”. But it is doubtful whether Health Minister Jens Spahn will even make any progress. Because even now tens of thousands of nursing jobs cannot be filled. So where will the additional 8,000 come from? Too many reasons speak against a job in a nursing home or hospital, as the Hans Böckler Foundation explains in a study: The pay is poor, the workload is high, the working hours are a deterrent and a career is hardly possible. "In addition to improvements in financing, it is crucial to improve career entry and development opportunities in social services," the DGB-owned foundation announced on Monday.

A geriatric nurse gets 14.24 euros an hour

The average hourly wage of all employees in this country is 16.97 euros. The gross hourly wages of qualified workers in geriatric care at EUR 14.24 and nursing at EUR 16.23, as well as those of educators at EUR 15.91, lag behind. The helpers in the care of the elderly and the sick only get a little more than eleven euros an hour.

Social service occupations are also unattractive because of the physical and emotional stress, “often as a result of poor staffing levels”, and because of the working hours, often in the evening and on the weekend and often only part-time. "Overworked employees get sick more often, they quit their job or even have to retire prematurely involuntarily," writes the Böckler Foundation. It is different in other countries. According to the study, there are an average of 5.3 patients for one nurse in US hospitals, seven in the Netherlands, 7.7 in Sweden and 7.9 in Switzerland. In this country, a nurse looks after an average of 13 patients.

A lot of helpers in action

The study authors also looked at the structure of care. In the past, in order to save costs, hospitals and nursing homes have "dismantled work processes like in a factory and only deployed skilled workers where they are essential". The resulting gaps would be filled by auxiliary staff at peak times, such as at noon or in the evening. This is one of the reasons why the part-time rate in this country for social services is well above the European average, especially for helper activities. Without longer working hours, better qualifications, more generous staffing ratios and higher incomes, the nursing emergency will not be able to be resolved, the authors sum up.

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