Caregiver holding an elderly person's hand on a walking stick

Early this month, our German member Diakonie Deutschland has published a report on the challenges faced by its nursing staff throughout the country. The report shows the results of a research survey and makes recommendations based on a careful analysis of these results.

Two-thirds of the respondents stated that the staff shortfall caused by the current Covid-19 pandemic can only be compensated by working extra hours and with a redistribution of staff within their facilities. 25 percent of the respondents also said that one or more of their colleagues were infected with Covid-19.

According to 70 percent of the nurses, some of the colleagues in their facilities had to quarantine due to a known exposure to COVID-19, which made the staff’s working conditions even more difficult.

In response to this important report, Diakonie Deutschland’s President Ulrich Lilie said: “The already tense staffing situation at our nursing homes has been drastically exacerbated by the Covid-19. If a significant number of staff members have to miss work due to the virus or have to quarantine, it becomes more than hard. The current pandemic also underlines that the shortages of staff in nursing homes must finally be solved once and for all. The fight against the pandemic must no longer be carried out by the nursing staff and the people they assist. “

Besides the current pandemic, nursing homes across Germany need more than 100,000 additional nursing staff, as the health economist and nursing expert Professor Heinz Rothgang has calculated. Therefore, during the Covid-19 pandemic, all Diakonie Deutschland’s facilities had to also deal with a massive extra-staff shortage.

According to the report, this pandemic is perceived as a major burden by 85 percent of those employed in elderly care facilities. The main concern among employees is that they could infect the people they are assisting. Last Spring, the lack of personal protective equipment was one of the biggest challenges for nursing homes in Germany. Almost 50 percent of those surveyed stated that they didn’t even have simple medical masks at that time. The FFP2 / 3 masks recommended by the authorities were even more difficult to be found.

The study also makes it clear that the contact and visit restrictions put in place during the first lockdown served to reduce the spread of the infection. According to 93 percent of nurses surveyed, at the beginning of the pandemic that was the only remaining option to protect residents due to the lack of protective equipment. These measures primarily concerned external service providers, volunteers, and visitors. More than half of the respondents stated that close relatives’ visits were restricted or were only allowed under exceptional circumstances.

The everyday life since the outbreak of the pandemic is perceived as a community of fate which social workers and residents share. 63 percent of those surveyed said that the exchange between them was more intense than before the pandemic, although less time for the exchange was available. 61 percent of employees stated that their families had to face additional challenges due to their profession.

The present study underlines how big the need for reforms in the sector is for caregivers. Real reform of long-term care insurance that takes into account the staff shortage and the employees’ working conditions is the most urgent step to be taken.


To know more about the survey, check our member’s webpage.