Nurse writing prescriptions (illustrative)..
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
After describing the growing crisis in geriatric nursing care as disastrous, Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman wrote on Thursday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling on him to immediately intervene and hold a cabinet session on the matter.
Just this week, MK Eli Alalouf (Kulanu), the head of the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee, called for bringing more foreign workers into the country to take care of the elderly who are ill.
Health Ministry director- general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said that his feelings “veer between desperation and frustration to a bit of optimism. The aging of the population is a huge challenge, and we are not really prepared for it with a broad national approach. A country is measured by its ability to produce mutual solidarity and responsibility. Our supervising manpower in minuscule, but we do carry out sanctions, including economic ones [against geriatric institutions that are abusive or negligent].”
There is a shortage of 5,000 workers in geriatric homes, Litzman wrote to Netanyahu.
There are 200,000 elderly who can’t afford private nursing home care and get a very low-level standard of treatment in public institutions or are dependent on relatives at home, he said. Those living at home and their families only get financial assistance for three hours of a caregiver’s services per day and must pay thousands of shekels per month for care the rest of the time, the minister added.
Family members have to work less or leave their jobs and are at high risk themselves for depression and physical ailments, said Litzman.
Adult children also have to pay significant amounts to keep their parents in public geriatric nursing institutions.
Due to the aging of the population, the number of elderly who need help is doubling every decade or so. Litzman has been advocating the raising of health tax rates to offer basic geriatric nursing coverage, but the government has not yet acted on it.