COVID-19 in German Nursing Homes – A Panel Study on Morbidity, Burden of Care and Social Isolation

Presenter: K. Wolf-Ostermann (University of Bremen, Germany)

Abstract for the International workshop on COVID-19 and Long-Term Care systems: What have we learnt and what policies do we need to strengthen LTC systems?, 6 and 7th December 2021


During the COVID-19 pandemic it became obvious that older people are a highly vulnerable group, especially people in need of long-term care (LTC) were particularly affected. International results show that the share of all COVID-19 deaths living in LTC- facilities worldwide is on average around 50% of all deaths. Germany was hit by the second wave of the pandemic much harder than by the first wave. The study aims to describe the extent to which nursing homes (NH) were affected during the first and second wave of the pandemic, the human and material resources of the homes, the organizational handling of the situation, and possible influencing factors.

About 8,000 NHs were invited to participate in two waves of an online survey, with a share of 5-10% participating. The share of all deceased NH-residents with COVID-19 is about 50% (04/2020-04-02/2021). Factors that increase the risk of an outbreak in NH are the spread of the virus in the population, the size of the institution and staff-resident-ratio. The initial lack of protective equipment has decreased during the second wave, but the facilities have to cope with massive additional care needs with reduced staff. NHs have partly banned contacts between residents and relatives. As a conclusion the support of NH in their attempt to fight the impact of this and further pandemic situations requires highest attention. Strategies for protecting nursing home residents can only be successful if the pandemic is overcome in the whole population.


K. Wolf-Ostermann1, K. Seibert1 , D. Domhoff1, F. Heinze2, B. Preuss2, H. Rothgang2

1 University of Bremen, High-Profile Area Health Sciences & Institute of Public Health and Nursing Research (IPP), Germany

2 University of Bremen, High-Profile Area Health Sciences & Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy (SOCIUM), Germany

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