Collective bargaining agreements for nurses: Undesirable consequences of better wages

Salaries in geriatric care are increasing, so many seniors have to pay more for the home. The Nursing Council calls for more state aid.

A woman with a walker rolls down a hallway, behind her a nurse

Rising wages, rising costs, here in a nursing home in Stuttgart Photo: Christoph Schmidt/dpa

BERLIN taz | The Curanum retirement home in Altötting, which belongs to the Korian Group, is in a beautiful location, has WiFi in the building, and pets are allowed. The nursing home residents have to pay 2,270 euros per month for the stay in the facility. But prices could go up in the near future. “We assume that the equity in our facilities will increase by 500 to 1,000 euros a month,” said Tanja Kurz, spokeswoman for the Korian Group, the taz.

The prices also increase because care facilities and care services from September 1st have to pay according to collective agreements or similar to collective agreements, so that the salaries can continue to be settled with the nursing care funds. The legal requirement of this so-called tariff loyalty regulation had been initiated by the old black-red federal government, also by urgently needed nurses to keep and win at work.

The price increases are not just about the higher wages for the carers. “The wages for the service staff in the kitchen and building services are also increasing. Minimum wages are increasing. Also come the rising prices for energy, for groceries as well,” explains Kurz. The fees for care, accommodation and meals and the investment costs in homes are usually only agreed once a year between the operator, the state associations of the care funds and the social welfare agency. Price increases are therefore also reacted to retrospectively.

The problem: long-term care insurance hardly cushions the cost increases. “Agreeing to pay scales is good news for nursing staff. However, it is a scandal to charge those in need of care and their families with the costs,” said Anja Piel, board member of the German Federation of Trade Unions.

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However, Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) pointed out that those in need of care in homes have received a subsidy for their own care-related contributions since January 2022. As of July 1, 2022, there were average savings of 368 euros per month, according to Lauterbach. “The wages of the nursing staff in the homes are increasing significantly and that is intentional. Finally, their important work is better paid,” said the minister.

“Politicians have failed to properly counter-finance the tariff payment for nursing staff, which we of course welcome,” criticized the president of the social association VDK, Verena Bentele. September 1, with the tariff loyalty regulation that will apply from then on, threatens to become a “doomsday” for those in need of care. The price increases for care services are immense, they are 30 to 40 percent, according to Bentele.

If residents can no longer cover the costs of their stay in the home from their pension or assets, the social welfare office intervenes with the so-called help for care and finances their own contribution. However, those in need of care must first use up their assets up to certain allowances.

So far, up to 40 percent of those in need of care in the homes have received help from the social welfare office, says Korian. “We assume that this proportion will increase,” said Korian spokeswoman Kurz.

The President of the German Nursing Council, Christine Vogler, said on Thursday on rbb Inforadio, “we have a huge problem because this law has not been thought through to the end”. In the future, tax financing of nursing care will no longer be possible.

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