October 3, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

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More employees in a residential care center?  Time to amend tough legislation - Belgium

More employees in a residential care center? Time to amend tough legislation – Belgium

Our sector has been suffering for years from a shortage of healthcare workers. Or should we say with the image problem? After all, of all the possible job offers as a nurse or care worker, the one providing hospice care appears to be the least popular’, writes Getha Bright. However, working in a residential care center offers many advantages, such as friendship, gratitude and above all satisfaction. Do we want to attract more motivated employees today? Then we have to show how nice it is to work in caring for the elderly… and urgently change the strict regulations.

Imagine: you go to a restaurant and order a hearty and tasty steak. Or so I thought, because you actually get a dry steak with a crazy sauce. Awesome restaurant experience. Is this why the entire hospitality sector is bad? I do not think so.

However, that’s what’s happening to the residential care sector today. Recently, there has been a lot of media coverage of neglect and mismanagement of residential care facilities. However, these stories concern only 1 percent of the more than 800 rest homes in Flanders and Brussels. This is just one of many shadows that hang over our beautiful profession.

It already starts in school

Our sector is facing an acute staff shortage, and urgent action is needed on a multi-track policy. The call for highly qualified nursing and care staff. The negative image that casts a shadow on the elderly care sector, competition with the hospital sector, and the general malaise in the labor market, contribute to the inability to occupy our employees. Our suffering already started from school. Today, student nurses do only internships in a residential care center during their first year of training. In the following years, this is no longer an option and they have to opt for internships in hospitals or other services. Interest in a residential care center is not stimulated at all in this way. When students graduate, they have long lost contact with the residential care center. Universities of applied sciences should get students excited about getting a job in a residential care center.

More employees in a residential care center? It’s time to change the strict legislation.

We also need to focus more on the concept of lifelong learning. In the first place, let’s hire employees with the right motivation and the right heart in the right place. We create an inspiring and educational work environment where every opportunity is offered to learn about aspects of the caregiver/caregiver position.

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Politics lacks creativity

We must also dare to look at elder care differently and be open to innovation and technology. Does the residential care center need nurses 24/24 and 7/7? Can’t we think of complete alternatives? Can we not be connected to hospitals and nursing services for specific nursing procedures, thus deploying nurses as per regional availability? We are creative enough in this sector to think about this. Only politics lacks this creativity. We are lagging behind because of the complexity of our state structure and our decision-making process at various levels. Example: Today we are working with students and retirees who want to help here. We record them with daily contracts, which costs us a lot in Social Security. Why isn’t healthcare allowed to use flexible workers? This will have less financial impact, and will eliminate a large part of the staff shortage.

Focus on living and living

Moreover, the focus of our policy today is still very much on the medical and care aspects, while our seniors need more than just care. Our residents are people of value with a rich life story and identity. We should adopt a more participatory care attitude based on the capabilities of our residents, not on limitations. Let’s put our residents back in the spotlight as a full-fledged person, where housing and living come first.

This automatically entails a shift in staffing needs in residential care centres. But this is where the shoe pinches at the level of politics. Strict legislation ensures that we cannot hire motivated people if they do not have the appropriate diploma.

Offer us a flexible and general framework that gives us the space to work creatively and assign the right support and staff according to the needs of the population. Stay-at-home parents can play an important role in creating an enjoyable living and living environment.

We have to show how to make a difference

And finally, of course, we must also dare to look on our lap. If we want to attract more enthusiastic and talented people, we must first of all work on our image. From this sector we have to show how we are making a difference for our residents and the community on a daily basis. A lot of beautiful things happen within the walls of a residential care center. We have to come up with those intimate stories and initiatives. Anyone who comes to work in a residential care center receives appreciation, friendship, and gratitude in return. In short, I continue to see elder care as one of the most humane jobs in the world.

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Geetha Bright is the Managing Director of Zorgband Leie en Schelde. This is responsible for the aged care facilities in the public social care centers of Larn, Dieselbergen, Merlebke, Nazareth and the former APB Lemberge.

Imagine: you go to a restaurant and order a hearty and tasty steak. Or so I thought, because you actually get a dry steak with a crazy sauce. Awesome restaurant experience. Is this why the entire hospitality sector is bad? I didn’t think so, that’s what’s happening to the residential care sector today. Recently, there has been a lot of media coverage of neglect and mismanagement of residential care facilities. However, these stories concern only 1 percent of the more than 800 rest homes in Flanders and Brussels. This is just one of many shadows that hang over our beautiful profession. Our sector is facing an acute staff shortage, and urgent action is needed on a multi-track policy. The call for highly qualified nursing and care staff. The negative image that casts a shadow on the elderly care sector, competition with the hospital sector, and the general malaise in the labor market, contribute to the inability to occupy our employees. Our suffering already started from school. Today, student nurses do only internships in a residential care center during their first year of training. In the following years, this is no longer an option and they have to opt for internships in hospitals or other services. Interest in a residential care center is not stimulated at all in this way. When students graduate, they have long lost contact with the residential care center. Universities of applied sciences should get students excited about getting a job in a residential care center. We also need to focus more on the concept of lifelong learning. In the first place, let’s hire employees with the right motivation and the right heart in the right place. We create an inspiring and educational work environment where every opportunity is offered to learn about aspects of the caregiver/caregiver position. We must also dare to look at elder care differently and be open to innovation and technology. Does the residential care center need nurses 24/24 and 7/7? Can’t we think of complete alternatives? Can we not be connected to hospitals and nursing services for specific nursing procedures, thus deploying nurses as per regional availability? We are creative enough in this sector to think about this. Only politics lacks this creativity. We are lagging behind because of the complexity of our state structure and our decision-making process at various levels. Example: Today we are working with students and retirees who want to help here. We record them with daily contracts, which costs us a lot in Social Security. Why isn’t healthcare allowed to use flexible workers? This would have less financial impact, and would eliminate much of the staffing shortage. Moreover, our policy today is still too focused on the medical and care aspects, while our seniors need more than just care. Our residents are people of value with a rich life story and identity. We should adopt a more participatory care attitude based on the capabilities of our residents, not on limitations. Let’s put our residents back in the spotlight as a full-fledged person, where housing and living come first. This automatically entails a shift in staffing needs in residential care centres. But this is where the shoe pinches at the level of politics. Strict legislation ensures that we cannot hire motivated people if they do not have the appropriate diploma. Offer us a flexible and general framework that gives us the space to work creatively and assign the right support and staff according to the needs of the population. Parents can play an important role in creating an enjoyable living and living environment. We must show how to make a difference. Finally, we must, of course, also dare to look at ourselves. If we want to attract more enthusiastic and talented people, we must first of all work on our image. From this sector we have to show how we are making a difference for our residents and the community on a daily basis. A lot of beautiful things happen within the walls of a residential care center. We have to come up with those intimate stories and initiatives. Anyone who comes to work in a residential care facility receives appreciation, friendship, and gratitude in return on a daily basis. In short, I continue to see elder care as one of the most humane jobs in the world. Geetha Bright is the Managing Director of Zorgband Leie en Schelde. This is responsible for the aged care facilities in the public social care centers of Larn, Dieselbergen, Merlebke, Nazareth and the former APB Lemberge.

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