Nursing home occupancy back to pre-pandemic level

The occupancy rate in Flemish residential care homes has returned to pre-pandemic levels, writes Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. This means that waiting lists have also returned.

Figures from the Flemish Care and Health Agency show that in June, 94 per cent of rooms in Flemish residential care homes were occupied. In 2019, the figure was 95 per cent.

There are, however, big differences between the care centres, Het Nieuwsblad points out. More and more care homes are full, which means that waiting lists have returned. This is particularly the case in regions with an ageing population, such as the provinces of Limburg and Flemish Brabant.

'Only the beginning'

This is only the beginning, according to Zorgnet-Icuro, which coordinates more than 300 non-profit retirement homes, and Vlozo, the umbrella organisation for commercial retirement homes.

"The next few years will see an explosion in the ageing population," Margot Cloet, managing director of Zorgnet-Icuro, told Het Nieuwsblad. "The number of people over 85 will increase spectacularly by 2050. Today, there are about 220,000 of them in Flanders; by 2030, there will be 245,000, and by 2050 there will be an unprecedented increase to 480,000."

Furthermore, Vlozo director Johan Staes warned, "the number of over-85s with dementia or psychiatric disorders is also increasing. This requires additional care efforts".

Increasing capacity

The two organisations are calling on the Flemish government to improve care for the ageing population, first by increasing the number of rooms in residential care centres. Currently, there are 825 residential care homes with a total of around 83,000 places. This number is frozen until 2025.

"The Flemish government should not wait until the summer of 2024. This should be decided as soon as possible"

"After that, there should definitely be an expansion," says Staes. "The Flemish government should not wait until the summer of 2024," says Cloet. "This should be decided as soon as possible."

Flemish Welfare minister Hilde Crevits (CD&V) said in a written response to Het Nieuwsblad that she had started preparations for capacity after 2025. "In addition, the search for personnel will be a challenge, as will cooperation with other sectors," she said.




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