While Coronavirus outbreaks spread Throughout several provinces, fears are spreading in one of the main sources of contagion and death in the worst moments of the pandemic: nursing homes. The CCOO and UGT unions and two of the largest employers in the dependency sector, AESTE and ASADE, have signed a joint document asking the central government for an immediate Shock Plan, in collaboration with the Autonomous Communities, that improves and guarantees the coordination of the health system and that of social services to avoid the lack of control and neglect experienced in relation to the residences and homes of the elderly and dependents. The premise of unions and employers is clear: what has happened in the past months must be analyzed and, above all, it cannot happen again.
Madrid was the autonomy where the oldest elderly died in residences: 17% compared to 9% of the national average
Union and employer representatives have announced that they have met this Monday morning with the Secretary of State for Social Rights, Nacho Álvarez, who has promised to sit down and speak with the sector’s social agents “immediately, before end July “to analyze their proposals. In addition to improvements in coordination, the sector calls for more funds, especially from the Central State, and denounces the public under-financing of this essential service, which still suffers from years of cuts in dependency in the past. These funds are necessary in the opinion of the social partners to improve the quality of the services provided, but also the working conditions of the workers in the sector, the vast majority of whom are women, many who earn the minimum wage and who have faced their work during the pandemic in very precarious conditions.
“Many things have failed and can not fail again. We are seeing outbreaks in a contiguous way in the country and there is a real risk that the situation will occur again, although we all hope not,” Carlos Bravo, confederal secretary, warned this Monday. from CCOO. Together with Adela Carrió, confederal secretary of the UGT, the union leaders have insisted on a press conference this morning in the demand that an audit be carried out that investigates and analyzes what happened during the pandemic in the nursing homes and in the services to the home care unit to correct errors in the system and improve care.
Somewhat less common is that the request for the study of what happened in the residences also starts with the businessmen of the sector, which has also occurred this Monday. “Yes, we consider that it is important that there be a reflection, an understanding of the causes that have led us to this lack of action in the pandemic throughout the health system and how we can improve in the face of possible outbreaks, to have a system that guarantees care for our elders in the future, “said Jesús Cubero, general secretary of the State Association of Residential Services for the Elderly (AESTE).
Employers and unions agree that it is necessary to act now, urgently and with the leadership of the central State, to solve some of the most evident errors in the most difficult months of the pandemic, such as the lack of coordination in data processing of what It happened in nursing homes and in its relationship with health services.
Ensure coordination on data
Regarding the first problem, the lack of transparency and control in the information on what was lived in residential centers, is clearly evidenced in the fact that even the Ministry of Health has not provided official data on how many infections and deaths there were in the nursing homes in the country. Health finally admitted at the beginning of this month that it has not provided the figures of what happened due to the lack of quality of the data of the Communities. The document specified that the death toll was 27,350 people in total from March 23 to June 20, 2020, the sum of what was given by all communities, but Health recognized that the figure was invalid and that it presented discrepancies with other sources, who would speak of the fact that 32,843 people have died in residences.
In this sense, the unions and employers demand that the central government direct and take the baton to guarantee the monitoring of the situation in residences throughout the country, in collaboration with the Autonomous Communities. “There needs to be greater transparency and based on a centralized and unified information system. The situation that occurred during the pandemic cannot be repeated, when residential centers reported information daily in four and five different systems of counseling, the Ministry of Health, Civil Guard, City Councils, Municipal Police … “, Cubero has stated. “That must be designed and led by the Ministry of Health itself and the Ministry of Social Policy.”
The businessmen have insisted that “the greater intervention” of the central State in the matter of coordination should not be interpreted by an invasion of competences by the CCAA, but as a tool of coherence and transparency in the dependency services throughout the country. “That greater coordination we also see from the point of view of the standardization of services, that the provision has equal minimums throughout the State is a value, through models of certification and quality,” Valeriano López has defended, of the State Association of Entities of Home Care Services (ASADE), with the intention of “removing from the sector” companies that do not guarantee the minimum necessary in this essential service. The document signed by the four organizations specifically refers to the objective of combating “pirate companies”, which devalue the quality of services in residences and in the homes of dependent people.
Guarantee health care
Another urgent task is to improve coordination between the health system and the social services system so as to guarantee adequate health care for elderly people living in residences and for dependents in their homes. During the pandemic, the protocols and orders of various Communities came to light, like the one in Madrid, so as not to refer the elderly from nursing homes to hospitals.
Employers and unions require clear protocols for coordinating the dependency system with the health system, also led by the central State, to ensure referral to health centers when necessary or care in their own homes or residential centers at these times of outbreaks. focused and, especially, in the face of fears of a new broader outbreak in the coming months that will put the country in a compromised situation again.
With regard to the medium term, all parties agree on the need to review the residential model in Spain, since “the elderly population of the residence needs greater health care,” said the representative of the AESTE employers. The businessman recalled that residents are increasingly older and require more healthcare. The pandemic has evidenced these shortcomings drastically, given the exceptional situation experienced, but unions and employers agree that it is necessary to tackle a change that guarantees this greater attention in a structural way, in the long term.