Report: Responses to COVID-19 infection in a care home for people with dementia in Germany

By Klara Lorenz-Dant (CPEC LSE)

In an earlier post we described how the Ministry for Health and the health authority in Lower Saxony focused on preventing the spread of COVID19 through a number of actions, such as banning visitors from care homes in attempt to reduce external contact as much as possible and through recommendations on hygiene procedures.

About two weeks ago, the virus entered a care and nursing home in Wolfsburg housing 165 people, most of whom live with dementia. On Sunday, 79 residents tested positive. By Monday, 15 residents, some of whom did not show any symptoms, had unfortunately died. The situation, that the care home houses predominantly people with dementia, adds to the challenge of responding to the outbreak. Many people with dementia benefit from routines and may seek close contact with others. This makes adhering to hygiene protocols difficult. For these people it would be difficult to understand why they should stay in isolation and they may find it difficult to adjust to a disruption in their daily routines.

The care home initially thought of evacuating those that were not infected, but as this may have caused considerable disruption to residents’ lives, it was decided to move healthy residents to a separate floor instead. Residents that so far have tested negative will continue to be tested every three days to monitor the spread of the virus.,coronavirus962.html

In response to the infection of care home residents, the professional association of carers in Lower Saxony (Pflegekammer Niedersachsen) has called for care staff to join doctors and emergency services in communal crisis management groups. The association has further been demanding that care recipients should regularly be tested for COVID19. The association argues that this would be important because even though visitors have been banned from care homes, staff could still carry the virus unknowingly into a care home. For this reason, the association was also critical of the loosening of quarantine guidance for care staff by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The RKI has loosened the length of isolation for medical personnel from 14 to 7 days if the person concerned does not show any symptoms – however, only in the case of staff shortage and in agreement with the health authority.

Suggested citation: Lorenz-Dant, K (2020) Report: Responses to COVID-19 infection in a care home for people with dementia in Germany. Article in, International Long-Term Care Policy Network, CPEC-LSE. 

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