Building cluster houses is a long-term issue

The ministers of Long-Term Care and De Jonge of Housing have grand plans to improve housing for the elderly. In the near future, 290,000 accommodations for the elderly should be realized. Part of this (170,000) consists of adaptation and new construction, and 120,000 consists of cluster homes, of which 40,000 with care.

Also 600,000 regular homes

In addition, about 600,000 regular homes are being built. In the coming months, all parties will sit down to discuss this. One thing is certain: it will take a long time.

What’s the problem?

In less than 10 years, the Netherlands will have more than 2 million over-75s. That is almost double compared to now. Some of them will certainly require complex care. Hopefully not the vast majority, but thousands will no longer be able to go through life without help and support. People who need this help can go to a nursing home. And there the shoe pinches in a painful way. There is already a list of almost 22,000 people waiting for a nursing home bed. Minister of Long-Term Care, Helder, has a huge problem on her plate. How does she solve this?

Solution: cluster homes

The minister has taken the plunge. Expansion of nursing home beds is not desirable. After all, there is not enough staff. Now 1 in 7 (according to other calculations 1 in 6) people work in healthcare. In order to maintain the level of care, 1 in 4 people will have to work in this sector in the future. According to the ministry, this is not feasible. Not in terms of personnel and not in terms of finances. She has now “frozen” the number of beds in nursing homes at 130,000. This will be replaced by cluster homes where care is provided. In total about 40,000. Compare it with “knarrenhofjes”, tufts of senior homes that are located together. The residents pay rent or mortgage, and help each other if necessary. A certain degree of care will be added to the planned 40,000.

Is that the solution?

The question is whether that is the solution. “No,” says Corinne Ellemeet firmly. She is a member of parliament for GroenLinks and her package includes elderly policy. Minister Helder pretends that this form of housing is an alternative to nursing homes, but according to Ellemeet, it is not. The member of parliament sees it as “an addition to nursing home care, not an alternative because the same care cannot be provided.” Chairman Anneke Westerlaken of Actiz, the sector association of the healthcare organizations, puts it sharply: “The number of beds is now frozen at 130,000, but the planned cluster homes are still a long way off.”

It’s going to take a long time

The latter is true as a bus. In the coming months, municipalities, housing corporations and healthcare institutions will join together to discuss. Where should be built, how many houses in one place and when can the spade be put into the ground? Before all noses are in one direction, we will easily be half a year to 1 year further. And then…? Then there are guaranteed to be all kinds of delaying consultation procedures, the nitrogen problem is not negligible and don’t forget the shortage of construction workers. On top of that comes the plan of Minister Hugo de Jonge to combat the housing shortage by building 610,000 regular houses. The ambitions are sky-high.

Pressure on care is only increasing

Moreover: 40,000 seems like a lot, but it isn’t. Most elderly people in need of care have no choice but to continue living at home. There is simply no room elsewhere. Anneke Westerlaken paints an ominous picture: this can be accompanied by pollution of the home, an increase in falls at home and subsequent hospital admissions, followed by sometimes months of rehabilitation. The healthcare workers are only getting busier. Professor of Geriatric Medicine Rudi Westendorp puts it as follows: “Just get used to it.” Just so you know.

“There will be no additional nursing home places”

(Photo: MAX)

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