New report: The COVID-19 Long-Term Care situation in Denmark

Tine Rostgaard (Roskilde University)

Key findings:

  • COVID-19 has been contained in Denmark, with low mortality rates and relatively few persons hospitalised. 563 persons, or the equivalent of 97 persons per 1 million inhabitants have died from the disease (May 25th)
  • The pandemic has caused concern for frail older people and in particular nursing home residents, yet there has been little debate about how home care users or staff are affected.
  • Nursing home residents make up 1/3 of COVID-19 related deaths (April 24th).

Factors that may have contributed to the relative success of Denmark in preventing and containing the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes include: 

  • A quick lock-down of the country.
  • A de-centralised and integrative approach to LTC.
  • Relatively few and large municipalities (98 in total) which ensures a more effective and coordinated approach.
  • Political attentiveness to and broad public support for LTC.
  • Due to de-institutionalisation, care for frail older people is more often provided in the home.
  • Care is provided by formally employed and well-trained staff.
  • The majority of nursing homes are public and modern in providing an individual abode.

Factors that may have exacerbated the situation: 

  • The testing strategy has changed a number of times and did not initially consider the need to test nursing home residents and staff.
  • Initially, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was prioritised for the health care sector, so municipal care providers had to find alternative ways to secure protection.
  • The guidelines regarding the use of PPE in the nursing home sector have been inconsistent.

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