Too many elderly and ill Israelis “fall through the cracks” and do not receive
adequate geriatric nursing care when they are no longer eligible for acute
medical care in the hospitals.
This according to a report by the Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development published on Wednesday – the first release
of such a report since Israel joined the OECD a year ago.
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Israeli men live to almost 80, women to over 83
provided by the Health Ministry in Jerusalem, said Israel would have among the
highest growth rate in its geriatric population in the coming years compared to
other OECD member states.
Called “Help Wanted. Providing and Paying for
Long-Term Care,” the report was prepared over the last two years. OECD
nations, including Israel, will see a rise in the number of elderly over the age
of 80; by 2050, octogenarians and older will constitute about 10 percent of the
population. Israel will in less than four decades have an 8% growth in this age
group. Only South Korea and Japan will have higher rates among OECD
The report recommends providing continuity of care for the
elderly, so that after acute medical care ends, patients are not left with
unsuitable care for long-term needs. This occurs, the OECD said, because too
many institutions and agencies are involved. Geriatric nursing care is not
supplied as part of the basket of health services, even though such a
recommendation was made by experts over two decades ago.
Minister Ya’acov Litzman said that even before he received the report, he asked
officials to work intensively on plans to reorganize geriatric nursing treatment
that “will ensure our preparedness for the future.”
He said he would
present the plan “in a few days” but did not provide details.
said Israel needed a geriatric nursing system that would help the patient “take
advantage of his rights.”
To do so, his ministry must turn to the Social
Welfare and Interior ministries, the National Insurance Institute, the health
funds and private insurance companies, he said.
“At a difficult time in
his life, the state places bureaucratic difficulties in the way,” the deputy
minister said. His plan, he said, would significantly reduce red tape, create
continuity of care, reduce financial participation by and the burden on
families, raise insurance coverage and incrase the rights of the
“In many measurements, we are way behind, but after the
ministry’s plans are implemented, Israel will be in first place,” Litzman
Today, between 1% and 2% of the work force in Israel care for the
geriatric population; the OECD estimated that this will double by 2050. Foreign
workers for this constitute half of all nursing care employees, second only to
Italy. Nine in 10 caregivers for the elderly are women, most of them
older; this means that turnover is high, reducing the quality of
Private funding pays for 60% of expenditures for geriatric
nursing care, compared to the OECD average of only 10%, the report said. It
added that families of elderly who need nursing care need financial and physical
assistance. This will bring out significant savings in public money by
postponing or preventing their hospitalization, as they can be treated better
and less expensively at home. The costs of long-term hospitalization in
geriatric nursing facilities constitute 62% of costs to care for this age group,
while only a third of those needing it are actually hospitalized. This,
said the OECD, showed the need for strengthening community services and giving
help to family members so they can care for them at home.
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