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Who takes care of the caregiver

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A dead letter is defined by Wikipedia as the term for an order that no one can enforce as such. It is considered to be no more than the desire of the person who drafted it.

Today I heard an interview on the radio with a representative from the National Insurance Institute, who defined it excellently: The representative explained to what extent the Institute regards training and development of nursing care staff as an essential and necessary matter, but desires are one thing while reality is quite another thing.

According to the State Comptroller’s Report, which examined the agreement signed between the National Insurance and the nursing care companies, it was determined that the companies themselves would train only 30% of the nursing practitioners. The Comptroller determined that non-enforcement of the obligation of training by the National Insurance transforms this requirement into a “dead letter”.

During the course of the three years that I have served as CEO of the “Lifes Door” Organization, the National Insurance has not yet completed redrafting the Nursing Law so that it will offer a full development framework for workers. Do you have any idea how many elderly people requiring nursing care have accumulated during these three years? How many have been treated by unskilled hands and how many have died in the care of those hands?

70% of those directly engaged in supplementary nursing care are women lacking dedicated professional training, and despite this fact serve as the primary “significant other”, taking care of the elderly person, spending extensive periods of time with that person, even more than close relatives.

Frequently the caregiver utilizes “natural instincts”, but lacks the tools or language to personally cope with suffering and loss.

This is a daily journey of survival. The emotional burden resting on their shoulders constitutes one of the factors of attrition and “mercy fatigue” that lead us to headlines in the paper blaring about “neglect” and even “violence”. Studies undertaken indicate the high level of denial and repression that is translated into emotional alienation and “escape” to the operational and functional places in the daily routine of nursing care.

Who takes care of the caregiver? Who sees to it that they do not become burned out? Who ensures that this burning out is not transferred to the elderly patient and that it is not expressed in the manner in which he receives the care?

In the framework of my work in the organization I meet nursing caregivers who sometimes benefit – for the first time after years of work – from meetings that provide them with tools to improve the emotional and human coping with their devoted work.

I experience their gratitude every time anew, when someone stops for a moment and listens to them and provides them with tools, information and the opportunity to connect between the practical work (doing) and time spent (being) with the elderly person; offering them a “place” to work out daily issues from a personal point-of-view and to understand the interaction with the elderly from new emotional, spiritual and social perspectives. All of this within the collegial reference group with “those who understand me and know what I’m speaking about”.

They are not afraid to speak about anything connected with issues such as the ending of life, deterioration and accumulated losses, the complexity of care for dementia patients, hope, dealing with family members, reducing anger, frustration and more. All that is needed is to facilitate the budget, because today it is “them”, tomorrow it is your parents and the day after tomorrow (how time flies by) it will be you.

The purpose of the Organization is to promote awareness for the importance of the connection between care processes, healing and nursing care and the mental and spiritual well being. The Organization operates amongst patients suffering from life-threatening and chronic illnesses, the elderly, terminal patients, decision makers, as well as professionals from the field of caregiving healing and nursing.