Care Homes and COVID-19: Results of an Online Survey in Germany

Heinz Rothgang, Karin Wolf-Ostermann, Dominik Domhoff, Anna Carina Friedrich, Franziska Heinze, Benedikt Preuss, Annika Schmidt, Kathrin Seibert, and Claudia Stolle (University of Bremen)

The full report is available here:

Key findings:

  • About half of all COVID-19 deaths in Germany are of care home residents. This is similar to findings from other Western countries. Like in those countries, care homes are the most important hotspot for COVID-19 deaths. It is likely that the absolute number of deceased care home residents in Germany is lower than in other countries because COVID-19-related mortality is generally lower than in many other countries, not so much because there is better protection in care homes than elsewhere.
  • 80 percent of all care homes do not have even one SARS-CoV-2 case among their residents. Of those that have cases, one third have eleven cases or more. Once the virus enters the facility, it seems to be difficult to prevent further spreading.
  • At the beginning of the pandemic, care homes suffered from severe shortages of personal protective equipment and surface disinfectants. Since then, the situation has improved considerably but some shortages still persist.
  • In order to protect their residents, care homes restricted all physical contact to persons outside the care home. Consequently, this restriction in itself has endangered the mental health of residents. These measures should be replaced by provisions that allow contact without significantly increasing the risk of infection.
  • When the survey was conducted, residents and employees were only tested if they showed symptoms. As the results only return a few days later, most of the infections had happened by then. In order to restrict the spreading of the virus, it is therefore important to introduce regular serial testing of all care home employees, all visitors and those residents that move in or return from hospital.

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