• nursing homes;
  • financing;
  • provision;
  • quality of care;
  • health policy;
  • health economics;
  • European comparisons

A comparative study of the financing, provision and quality of care in nursing homes. The approach of four European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands

As result of an increase in the numbers of frail elderly people, most European countries are facing problems with the financing and provision of services by nursing homes. At the same time, the expectations of quality of these services continue to rise. The main question investigated in this study was that of how countries approach the problems of financing and service provision by nursing homes and, at the same time, attempt to increase the quality levels in these institutions. The study was conducted in Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. A study was made of the relevant literature and questionnaires were sent to experts in each country. The four countries are addressing the problems of financing and sufficient service provision by controlling the use of nursing home services. In addition, financial problems are approached by extending co-payments, encouraging cheaper forms of care and putting pressure on nursing homes to operate at lower costs. Problems in the provision of care are addressed by applying more selective admission criteria and offering alternative forms of care outside the nursing home. As a result nursing home beds are used for those with the greatest care-dependency. Nursing home services are adjusted to rising quality expectations by offering a greater range of provision, decreasing the number of residents per room, improving comfort and improving the training of nursing staff. Another way to increase the quality of care is to separate the housing and service functions. Many nursing homes nowadays collaborate intensively with other facilities for the elderly to cope with all these problems and changes. The workload for nursing home staff has increased because of the increasing care-dependency of residents, the demand for higher quality of services and the financial problems.