Why do most people struggle financially

Coronavirus - When the beds stay empty: Nursing homes struggle with financial losses

If the beds remain empty: Nursing homes are struggling with financial losses

In the past few months, residents of many old people's and nursing homes have died of corona infections. However, the places are sometimes difficult to fill - because currently only a few people want to move into a home.

"We just had luck." Roger Schnellmann, director of the Homburg retirement and nursing home in Läufelfingen, cannot express it otherwise. Four employees contracted the corona virus during the past year, but the residents were spared. “But I know of many colleagues who have been less fortunate,” says Schnellmann. He is quite sure that they have tried as hard as he had in the home.

"It takes so little and you have an outbreak."

And an outbreak in the nursing home has serious consequences. On the one hand, there are the deaths that have occurred in several homes in both Basel. On the other hand, retirement and nursing homes can also get into serious financial problems because of the pandemic: "I know from some of my colleagues that they are struggling really hard," says Schnellmann. Because: Empty care places cost money. And giving the beds again is not easy everywhere at the moment.

Considerable financial losses

Rolf Wirz, media spokesman for the Basel Economic and Health Directorate, and Andi Meyer, managing director of Curaviva Baselland, agree that the problem does not exist on a large scale. There are homes that are fully occupied and even have a waiting list. But: “This is a problem in some houses,” says Rolf Wirz.

"Some homes are vacant and are finding it difficult to fill vacant homes",

so does Andi Meyer.

Home managers who have had corona cases in their home are particularly familiar with the problem. For example Beat Brunner, manager of the Zum Park retirement and nursing home in Muttenz. There was a corona wave in the home around the holidays, and there have been no new infections since the new year. "Before the pandemic, in our case before November 2020, we had a small waiting list and were able to fill vacant beds immediately," explains Brunner. Currently around 15 beds are free for pandemic-related reasons. "It will take some time to fill these, as other homes in the region have the same catching up to do." For example, it might be difficult to attract people from neighboring communities.

An inventory of empty beds, as shown by the home, inevitably leads to considerable financial losses. "This is because we did not go on short-time work and do not plan any layoffs." It is assumed that what is expected to be financially good 2020 will make up for an impending deficit in 2021. "In any case, we would like to refrain from saving measures in order to maintain the trust of the environment in the old people's and nursing homes even in these difficult times."

Covid was expensive for all homes

Reto Wolf, managing director of the Obesunne Foundation in Arlesheim, feels the same way. The Obesunne nursing home was affected by the pandemic, "if not as badly," as Wolf says. Six residents died of a corona infection. «Of course we had certain gaps in the allocation. For example, we weren't able to take in any new residents during the outbreak. " In particular, the relief offer, in which people in need of care live in the home for a few weeks, is currently not being used well. Stays that have already been booked have also been canceled.

In the meantime, however, normal operation prevails again - at least with the long-term places. However, you can see the gaps in the January finances. “You also have to consider that nursing homes are not profit-oriented,” says Wolf. "So it's not just about a little less profit, but about 'living'." But he is convinced that the lower bed occupancy alone should not drive a home into financial ruin. This is confirmed by Curaviva Managing Director Andi Meyer: "As far as we as an association are informed, no home in Basel is currently facing existential financial problems."

But: The entire Corona period has resulted in incredibly high costs. "It may be that the empty beds on top of a home could break the neck financially."

"Nursing homes are not death traps"

He can basically understand that fewer people currently want to enter a nursing home. "But actually that's not justified in terms of content." He is sure that the fear of entering a home also arose because of the media coverage. “But nursing homes are not death traps, as is often portrayed. People die in the home. Unfortunately, that was also the case before Corona. " When someone is ready for a nursing home, it is usually because all other care options have been exhausted. "Then a home is the better solution in every view, everything else is not in the interests of those affected."

Roger Schnellmann sees it differently. He sees the reason for the reluctance to move into home not only in the fear of infection, but also in the loneliness. In the Homburg retirement and nursing home in Läufelfingen, which he runs, only one bed is currently free - this will soon be occupied. "The first question from this resident's daughters was about the visit." He is convinced that a huge amount of community hours are currently being done by family members or friends. "Now you choose outpatient service providers, neighborhood help or family care in cases where in the past it was perhaps more of a discussion about going to a home," says Schnellmann.