The Caregiver Crisis in Germany

Globally, the caregiving industry is in full bloom. Due to an aging population and an unfortunate increase in age-related maladies such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, societies around the world and specifically in the developed world are in dire need of well-trained and motivated caregivers to address the care issues surrounding the elderly. Europe’s biggest economy is no exception. Germany has had to think outside of the box to try to address what can be described as an out-of-control healthcare crisis.
We may find it odd that such an advanced country is suffering from a deficient elder care system. In fact, caregivers in Germany are a rare breed. Very few youngsters opt for a career in caregiving and this is as true in Germany as it is in the US and for the same basics reasons: lack of professional recognition, low wages, and, of course, exhaustion as pressure mounts on an increasingly overtaxed healthcare system.
What differentiates Germany from the US and other developed countries, however, is a willingness to tackle the issue head-on, and an acceptance by the government that they should have done better and must take immediate action to remedy the situation.
The way Germany has gone about addressing the healthcare crisis is by thinking outside the box and using creative, goal-oriented solutions that work. One idea has been to start a recruiting campaign abroad to fill the ranks of its caregivers. Another German initiative has been to use its recent increase in manpower due to the Syrian refugee crisis to help train and employ migrants to fill these sensitive posts. Both these initiatives have proven successful. They not only decreased the pressure on the German healthcare system by bringing an infusion of young caregivers into the system, but helped integrate migrants into German society.
These brand new developments in Germany have helped spark greater interest in caregiver seminars, training, and development.
In spite of the very encouraging developments that we are seeing from Germany, they still have a ways to go before the crisis has been fully dealt with. Germany’s leading charities have estimated that 100,000 workers will be needed to cover Germany’s immediate healthcare needs.
Germany is also working to tackle the salary gap that many caregivers face. The problem is that due to the deregulation of salaries in the healthcare industry, where private employers essentially pay what they want to pay with no limits set through negotiated tariffs with the unions, this leads to many caregivers becoming disenchanted by a system that seems geared to exploit them.
As we can see, Germany is showing a great deal of promise for caregivers and the industry as a whole. Of course, much more needs to be done before caregivers find the respect and recognition that their invaluable efforts deserve.