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High Work Strain: 2020 Care Report Presented"

Caregivers are exposed to extreme physical and mental strain. This leads to a decreased level of health and more absences due to illness. That is the result of this year’s Care Report, which the SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy put together.

The Bremen authors, the health economist Professor Heinz Rothgang, Dr. Rolf Müller, and Benedikt Preuß scientifically analyzed care statistics and routine data from BARMER for the current report data.
“Care providers are exposed to a higher strain than other career groups. This leads to a higher case of illness. But sick caregivers do not help us,” emphasizes Professor Rothgang. He therefore demands that care politics be thought through once more – more staff are needed.

Increased Strain in Care Jobs

Elevated strain was determined for care providers in many fields. Around 92 percent of caregivers for the elderly work standing up a great deal of the time (in comparison to 47 percent in other jobs). Regular lifting and carrying of heavy loads is reported by 76 percent of caregivers for the elderly (in comparison to 15 percent in other jobs). Additionally, working in forced postures is also clearly more often (45 percent in comparison to 11 percent).Of the care providers for the elderly, 52 percent state that they often have regulations concerning the minimum performance or time for specific tasks (in comparison to 27 percent in other jobs). 63 percent are often under pressure to perform or make appointments (comparison group: 50 percent). 53 percent report that they often have to work extremely quickly in comparison to 39 percent in other jobs. 31 percent of care providers for the elderly answer that they often have to work to full capacity (16 percent in other jobs). All of this is felt as being a strain far more often by caregivers in comparison to those working in other fields.

Worse Health in Carers

Parallel to the work strains, the report’s authors determine that care providers generally have a worse level of health. Both the survey results and the analyses of outpatient diagnoses, time absent, medication orders, and hospital stays show that nurses are more affected by illnesses of the motor system and psychological and behavioral disorders. Despite the fact that the strains put on examined geriatric caregivers and non-examined caregivers are very similar in many fields, the health of the non-examined staff is worse than that of the examined caregivers.

Many Care Staff Absent due to Illness

An illness level of 7.2 percent was determined for examined geriatric care providers. This value was even as high as 8.7 percent for the non-examined staff. In comparison, 5.0 percent was found for other careers. The multiplication of the difference between illness levels with the number of employed caregivers results in the work time, of which an above-average level was lost due to illness-based absences. This above-average lost work time added up to the working time of around 24,000 caregivers in 2017.

From 1,000 examined geriatric caregivers, an average of 3.8 begin to receive a full-rate reduced-earning-capacity pension each year. This number increases to 6.0 for non-examined staff and decreases to 3.0 from 1,000 for other jobs. This above average early retirement rate resulted in nearly 2,000 lost caregiving staff in 2017. The total of the above-average illness-based absences and the above-average full-rate reduced-earning-capacity pension recipients equals the working time of 26,000 care providers that was lost in 2017 alone.

No Other Option than More Staff

“At the moment, the number of employed staff is not enough in order to guarantee specialist care and health-promoting work conditions for care staff,” emphasized Professor Heinz Rothgang. The resulting work intensity leads to above-average strain and has negative effects on health. The consequential, increased absences and job withdrawals reinforced the dire care situation. For the remaining caregivers, this in turn results in an increase in strain. “This vicious circle needs to be interrupted,” demand the study authors, “if quality assured care is to be given. More staff are required for that.”

Further Information:

(in German only) (in German only)  (in German only)



Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang
SOCIUM – Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
University of Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 218-58557
Email: rothgangprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Dr. rer. Pol. Rolf Müller
SOCIUM – Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
University of Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 218-58554
Email: rmintprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Benedikt Preuß
SOCIUM – Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
University of Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 218-58647
Email: bpreussprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de


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