Care home staff are reported to be under severe pressure because of staff shortages caused by the latest wave of Covid-19, De Morgen reports.
That’s according to Paul Cappelier, president of the Belgian Federation of Healthcare Professionals, speaking in De Morgen, who went public to draw attention to the serious situation in the care homes, now that Belgium is undergoing its fourth wave of the Covid pandemic.
According to a recent poll carried out by the Federation among 600 of its members, 80% are now experiencing a rise in infections, either in care homes or geriatric departments in general hospitals. And that leads to more infections among patients and staff alike.
However, while vaccinated staff and others may be at less risk as a result, they still have to be quarantined, while the unvaccinated have to go into isolation.
“As many as 91 percent of healthcare professionals indicate that there are shortages of healthcare professionals or nurses in their services; 71 percent say that the shortage is particularly large. Nearly 90 percent say they urgently need extra support,” Cappelier told the paper.
“We are particularly concerned that two-thirds of healthcare professionals indicate that staff have left the facility or department due to excessive work pressure or because they are no longer able to cope mentally and physically. This marathon has also been going on for more than 21 months, without any rest.”
The figures demonstrate the level of anxiety among staff. 91% report staff shortages; 89% the need for more support; 77% complain of the lack of reaction from the authorities; and 76% are dreading the effects of a new outbreak in their own facility.
“There’s one word for it: chaos,” said Margot Cloet, director of the country’s largest network of care centres and general hospitals. “And our greatest fear is that the continuity of care will be jeopardized and we will therefore go to under-care. Something we should definitely try to avoid.”
Cloet told the paper the problem of staff shortages is not confined to care for the aged; it affects the entire care sector.
“In October we saw an average dropout rate of 11 percent in Belgian hospitals. It is already at 15 percent for November,” she told De Morgen.
According to Wouter Beke (CD&V), minister for welfare in the Flemish government, the problem is being tackled. However solutions such as finding ways to attract more people to the care sector are unlikely to produce the desired results in time, given the long delay between starting training and actually manning the wards.
“There is also regular consultation with the sector organisations to keep a finger on the pulse,” he said.