Elderly Care




care (2) unfilled position (2)
effect shortage personnel
brisk caregiver pressure (2)
district hand out private (3)
chance diversity that was my thing
pain arthritis once again
spray show (3) public health provider
dignity dust (2) medication
avoid thing (2) nursing home
nurse look after overburdened
hardly announce under pressure
suffer press on registered nurse
put on relatively poorly paid
content hose (2) recognition
trip (2) write off support hose
fix (2) stocking document (2)
eager as usual double-parked
get off available personnel
last (2) tough (3) I’ll eat my hat
exist dizziness minister (2)
bout disabled believe (2)
pill promise supposed to
cut (2) train (2) assessment
wish space (2) expense (2)
proud bandage conversation
try medicine emergency
face (2) attention patient (2)
sick stomach right away
vomit diarrhea my goodness
qualify surprise is in for a surprise
mess insistent household
lurch work out responsibly
bill (2) wedding at whose expense
instead doorbell once more
invite frustrated pay/paid/paid (2)
frau accident one another
lovely physician bedridden
severe catheter get around
roll overtime rolling walker
provide stuff (2) register (2)
reality schedule balance (3)






Rosa Lopez is a nurse in Berlin. For twenty (20) years, she’s been helping older people who can no longer care for themselves.

Rosa is originally from Spain. She loves her job, but it’s increasingly difficult to do it well.

Thirty-six thousand (36,000) positions for care workers remain unfilled in Germany, and she feels the effects of this personnel shortage every day.

Nurse Rosa’s workweek gets off to a brisk start. She’s one of more than thirty (30) caregivers who work for Janke, one of Berlin’s oldest, privately-run healthcare services.

The office has a house key for each patient — because many can no longer open their own entrance doors.

Trained nurses such as Rosa Lopez care for as many as thirty (30) patients a day.

Rosa Lopez, Nurse: “I’ve tried a lot of things in my life, but I wasn’t so happy with any of them.

Then I just started nursing, and that was my thing.”

Journalist: “Why?”

Rosa Lopez, Nurse: “It’s just the diversity of working with different people, different stories. Every day’s different.”

Her first patient today is Ruth Helmicht. Frau Helmicht is ninety-four (94) years old, and lives alone. Her husband died years ago.

Today, she’s in a lot of pain.

Ruth Helmicht, Ninety-Four Years Old: “I don’t have any medication. I don’t know what to do.

Rosa Lopez, Nurse: “Have you told your doctor?”

Ruth Helmicht: “No. I don’t know what I should do.”

Rosa Lopez, Nurse: “Okay, I’ll call her and see what she says.”

But Nurse Rosa can’t sit and wait for the doctor to arrive — she can only bill the public health provider for a twenty (20) minute visit. And it’s almost over.

The nurse tries not to let the stress show.

Rosa Lopez: “First a spray.”

Ruth Helmicht can’t use the spray on her own due to the bad arthritis in her hands. But she wants to keep living in her own home.

Ruth Helmicht: “No. I’m not going to leave my nice home. I make my own food, something fresh every day. No canned stuff.

I wash the dishes every evening. And I dust.”

The daily visit from Nurse Rosa helps her avoid having to go into a nursing home.

Ruth Helmicht: “And that’s the nicest thing of all.

Home care gives seven-hundred-thousand (700,000) people in Germany the chance to stay in their own homes.

But the health care system is overburdened; personnel are under pressure — something Rosa Lopez feels is only getting worse.

Rosa Lopez, Nurse: “Because there are more and more people needing help, and fewer and fewer who want to do this job. Already they can hardly find people — hardly any registered nurses.”

One reason is because the job is poorly paid. But there’s also little recognition for this often tough career.

But Otto Matas is a relatively easy patient: he’s content even though his wife is currently away on a trip.

He’s eighty-one (81), and today he only needs help putting on his support hose.

Otto Matas: “What can you expect at eighty-one (81). At my age, you’re already written off by society.

If you didn’t have your family, you’d be in a real fix.”

Five minutes later, the stockings are on; but Rosa needs a bit of time to document her visit in the care file.

Rosa Lopez, Nurse: “I wish you three nice days without your wife. If you need anything, you can call me. Bye-bye.”

Rosa walks quickly to her car; as usual she’s double-parked because there are no other parking spaces available. That’s just one more problem when you have to look after more and more patients in ever shorter amounts of time.

Germany’s new government has announced that it wants to improve nursing care. Health minister Jens Spahn has promised to create some thirteen-thousand (13,000) new jobs for care workers.

Rosa Lopez, Nurse: “If he manages to do that, I’ll eat my hat. No, I don’t believe that. They don’t exist. He has to train them, and that will take years. No. And first he has to find the people who want to be trained too.”

Rosa Lopez, Nurse: “Good morning, did you sleep well?”
Krista Koehler: “Yes, but only from one-thirty (1:30 am) to five-thirty (5:30 am).

Krista Koehler has been waiting for Nurse Rosa. She suffers from bouts of dizziness so severe that she can hardly get out of bed.

Frau Koehler was herself once a caregiver in nursing home. Nurse Rosa gives her some pills.

The visit is supposed to last just seven minutes. But Krista Koehler has a lot of questions: she’s received a letter from the District Office.

Rosa Lopez: “Show me.”

Rosa Lopez: “I couldn’t believe it: She receives health care services through the District Office. And a few weeks ago, there was an assessment: Things are so bad that they’re making cuts everywhere.

So they’re cutting her services.”

Rosa Lopez: “Okay, so I wish you . . .”
Krista Koehler: “Have you seen my grandkids?”
Rosa Lopez: “Yes, I see them every time I come.”

Her daughter has just gotten married, and Frau Koehler is eager to show Nurse Rosa the wedding photos.

Rosa Lopez: “You have lovely grandchildren Frau Koehler. You can be proud.”

Krista Koehler: “I couldn’t go to the wedding.”
Nurse Rosa: “Oh no. Did they marry here in Berlin?”
Krista Koehler: “No, in Bavaria.”

Nurse Rosa: “We’re her only contact person, so when we visit, she wants to talk. That’s what these patients need: attention and conversation. They just need you to sit next to them, ask questions, listen to them and help them.

That’s the best medicine — better than pills.”

But there’s no time?

Nurse Rosa: “Right, there’s no time, but you still try to make some; you can’t just go in and out and say ‘who cares what happens after I’ve gone? I’m here to hand out pills, and the rest isn’t my problem.’

We’re not like that.”

Nurse Rosa is already a half-hour behind schedule — and facing another emergency.

Werner Schtutzer opens the door. But right away, he’s sick to his stomach.

Nurse Rosa: “My goodness, did you eat something bad?”

Once again, Nurse Rosa must call emergency services.

Nurse Rosa, on the Phone: “Vomiting, diarrhea and slight dizziness.”

Nurse Rosa: “Did you eat breakfast?”

Nurse Rosa wants to make him a tea to drink until the doctor arrives. But she’s in for a surprise when she enters the kitchen . . .

Schtutzer doesn’t yet qualify for any household help — so the place is a mess.

Nurse Rosa: “Politicians are always so insistent that we act responsibly and not leave people in the lurch, and things keep working out somehow.

But at whose expense?

The care workers.”

So once again, she stays for twenty (20) minutes instead of nine.

Nurse Rosa: “We’ll talk later. And when the doorbell rings, that will be the doctor.”

Then she’s off again; but once more, with a bad feeling about things.

Rosa Lopez would love to show the politicians, who have so often promised to make things better, what her typical day is like, Germany’s new Health Minister for example.

Nurse Lopez: “He should come and do some work experience with me so he can see right away what things are like; I’d like to invite him — and not for a day, but for a month!”

Journalist: “You sound frustrated.”

Nurse Lopez: “It is frustrating when you have more and more patients, and less and less time.

The pay isn’t right either.

Of course that’s frustrating.

Who wants to do the job?

No one, even if there are nice things about it.”

Rosa has known eighty-two (82) year old Gizella Schroen and her ninety (90) year old sister, Maria, for a while now.

Nurse Rosa: “You’re on your side today. Short hair; you’ve got it cut.

How are you Frau Schroen? So everything’s okay?”

The two sisters moved in together three years ago to help one another. Since she had an accident, Gizella, a former lawyer, has been bedridden.

Gizella Schroen: “I was never one to run to the doctor. I had a family physician, but nothing else.

Rosa Lopez changes her bandages and her catheter.

A caregiver visits the sisters four times a day.

Maria Schroen: “I can’t do this alone. I couldn’t do it anymore, because I’m disabled to, and I can only get around in a rolling walker.

The sisters want to live together for a long as possible — they’ve promised one another that.

Nurse Rosa: “Bye my dear.”
Gizella Schroen: “All the best, and thank you.”

Once again, Nurse Rosa will do overtime to provide her patients care with dignity in their old age. There are still twelve (12) more patients on her list, and she’ll press on, doing her best to balance their needs with the realities of a nurse’s schedule.


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1. Rosa Lopez has a lot of experience as a nurse and caregiver. True or false? Is she passionate about her career? Why does she love nursing and care giving?

2. Is there a great demand for care providers in Germany? Is there an adequate supply of care workers, or is there a shortage?

3. “The office has a house key for each patient.” Why does the company have copies of the entrance keys for all their patients? What does this imply?

4. Does Rosa Lopez have a big workload? What are her main duties?

5. Do the elderly patients have different choices and options?

6. Are all her patients the same in terms of their background, health, habits, current situation, family, friends, behavior, outlook and life history?

7. Describe Nurse Rosa’s work schedule. Is she pressed for time? Is she under time pressure?

8. This documentary was only about nursing and elderly care. Is this right or wrong?

9. Nurse Rosa believes the solution is to provide more pills and other medication to patients. Is this correct or incorrect?
A. I am a caregiver. Yes or no? Do you know anyone who is a nurse or care provider?

B. How popular or desirable is care giving as a profession or career? It’s very popular, it’s desirable, in the middle, it’s not very desirable, or no one wants to be a caregiver?

C. Is there an increasing demand for care workers?

D. Do people and governments have difficulty meeting this demand?

E. What might happen in the future?

F. What are some solutions to this situation?

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