According to a survey published in Imagine, a bimonthly magazine,one out of eight Belgian seniors over the age of 85 and one out of five over the age of 65 are current nursing home residents. This means that in Belgium, in total, more than 130,000 people are currently living in nursing home. In order to cope with the challenges of an ageing population, between now and 2025, the Belgian government should build 1,800 to 3,000 new nursing homes beds annually. However, that goal seems very far away at present.
Indeed, Imagine pointed out that between 2000 and 2011, only 790 new beds had been built each year to serve this elderly population. Another aspect mentioned in the survey was nursing home costs. For some seniors, these are considered an unaffordable luxury: “In the private sector, the price of a nursing home room can vary between 50 and 150 euros per day – sometimes, even more. Still, in Belgium, 59% of women and 33% of men receive a pension of less than 1,000 euros per month.”
Moreover, an increasing number of institutions are now in the hands of large corporations, some of which are French. 62.5% of beds are privately managed in Brussels, versus a mere 15.1% in Flanders. Safeguards are in place, however, in Wallonia: its regulation stipulates that at least 29% of beds should be managed by the public sector, at least 21% should be handled by non-profit organisations and that no more than 50 % should be run by private sector companies. The magazine explained that this upper limit had almost been reached, since large companies, most of them French, now own 49.3% of beds.
Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)