Waiting lists for nursing homes in Belgium disappearing due to pandemic
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    Waiting lists for nursing homes in Belgium disappearing due to pandemic

    Credit: Pikist

    Waiting lists for residential care centres are decreasing and disappearing following the Covid-19 pandemic, as many of Belgium’s elderly fall victim to the virus.

    Whereas the great demand for placement used to exceed the offer, in some residential care centres beds now remain empty, VRT reports.

    “We are seeing empty spots in nearly all Brussels residential care centres,” one of the directors of Senior Living Group, Yves Minnoye, told VRT. His company runs 120 care centres for the elderly.

    “This is undoubtedly a result of the high number of passings during the corona crisis. But the issue will solve itself in the long term. We are approaching a new aging peak, and when the time comes we’ll be able to fill the rooms once again.”

    In Brussels and the surrounding province of Flemish-Brabant, less than half of nursing homes still hold a waiting list. The Limburg area on the Dutch border is experiencing a similar decline.

    Minnoye added that the lack of residents was not only caused by the virus, but also by the improvement of nursing home facilities and the hesitance of some to sign in their family members out of fear for the virus.

    “The Flemish government has invested a great amount in creating new care centres or renewing existing nursing homes. These measures have also led to shortening waiting lists. And people are generally not too excited about taking their (grand)parents to a residential care centre in these times. Even though there is no safer place than a residential care home, in my opinion.”

    Earlier this month, it became clear that the pandemic had overwhelmed Belgium’s care facilities, leaving many nursing homes to fend for themselves. Half of Belgian coronavirus-related deaths occurred in these homes.

    In July, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) published a condemning report of regional and national governments, criticising them for the lack of support provided to Belgian nursing homes. Instead, MSF itself had to come to the aid of 135 residential care homes across the country.

    Amée Zoutberg
    The Brussels Times