BAGSO, the German National Association of Senior Citizens‘ Organisations, issued a number of recommendations to politicians urging governments to end the social isolation of people in care institutions and ensure better protection to family caregivers.
In Germany the restrictions on freedom imposed since early March following the spread of COVID-19 have been supported by the vast majority of the population. Yet, like in many EU countries, nursing homes have been particularly hit by the virus, partly due to the lack of protective equipment. Restriction and regulations are very different from one “Land” to another, and decisions on allowing or prohibiting visits are left to the nursing homes. In a recent statement End social isolation in nursing homes, BAGSO warns that this ‘forced’ loneliness may lead to reduced physical capacity and depression and stresses the need to carefully weigh up one health hazard against the other. The German organisation therefore insists that the decisions taken must not lead to the complete isolation of older persons, that a certain degree of contact must be ensured in view of the expected duration of the restrictions. BAGSO also asks for the decision on allowing or prohibiting residents’ visits not to be left to the institutions,
This call to end social isolation in care homes has been heard. New measures have been put in place in the beginning of May.
On 6 May 2020, the federal and state governments decided that visits to nursing homes must be possible again, provided that there is no current incidence of infection in the facility. A central demand of BAGSO that close relatives – under strict hygiene conditions – can visit nursing homes to a certain extent was thus fulfilled. It was also decided that this decision must no longer be left to the discretion of the facilities. In concrete terms, the decision states that a provision is to be included in all concepts or general decrees issued by the federal states that allows each resident to be visited by a defined person on a regular basis. Some of the Länder had already announced openings in the past few days, some of which do not provide for a limitation to a defined person. In any case, special protective measures will apply to the visits.
In another statement Better support for family caregivers, BAGSO also highlighted the pressing need for better protection against infection with the coronavirus in domestic care and better support for caring relatives.
An earlier statement on strengthening social cohesion had been published in March. It provides recommendations to improve the health protection, care and social situation of older people in times of the spread of the coronavirus in Germany.
More statements in English can be found on BAGSO’s website