Tag Archives: old

COVID: A game changer for illegal home care work in Germany? | Europe | Latest news and events from all continents | DW | Instant News

There are no German contracts, no German health insurance. Cash on hand, though not much. Nearly three-quarters of a million women – mostly from Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria – caring for the German elderly, in whose house they live. Without these women, there would be a care crisis. However, officially, they don’t exist.

An estimated 90% of live-in care work is done illegally in Germany. The country’s growing elderly population is increasingly choosing to stay at home: Three-quarters of the estimated 4.1 million people who need daily care do so. Thus, there was a surge in demand for household care which successive governments – until now – have failed to regulate. Black market agents continue to undermine legal institutions by avoiding social security contributions and ignoring minimum wages.

A loophole in German law means that the employment model works for someone whose house you also live in has not been recognized for a long time, creating a “gray area”. But hiring someone without a contract and without contributing to social security “is a crime,” stressed attorney Frederic Seebohm, who is head of Germany’s professional association for live-in care workers.

An estimated 300,000 families – there are no official figures – who employ care workers in this “gray area” fully understand they are breaking the law, he said.

Change the rules of the game

The care reform recently announced by German Health Minister Jens Spahn, however, “could be a game changer,” said Seebohm. Spahn laid out broad guidelines for reform in October 2020, saying that “care is the biggest social challenge of the decade.”

Although the plan has not yet been presented in parliament, the proposal in the working draft would equate to recognition that direct care is a widespread reality. And they will be a step towards regulating the sector, even if the legal basis for the work needs to be further refined.

Although many German seniors live in care facilities, an increasing number are choosing to live in their own homes

Austria is well ahead of Germany in regulating the domestic care sector. The state allows living-in care workers to identify themselves as self-employed. Such is the case of Anna Tadrzak, a 50-year-old nurse from Poland, who found work through an agency based in Vienna. Caritas takes care of everything. She works shifts of two to four weeks, and then takes breaks for the same length of time.

Austrian ‘good system’

It’s a great system, he says, because in practice care work involves being on call 24 hours a day. “When a client calls you five times a night, then you serve them five times a night. Every day is different, ”said Tadrzak. The nature and scope of work also differ from family needs and expectations. “Clients don’t just want sitters; they want cooks, cleaners, and buyers. Sometimes you give a little time and they take up a lot of time – and you can end up without any privacy.”

The inherent difficulty of setting limits in terms of time and duties means that, without regulations, care workers are left exploited in Germany. The black market agent business model relies on the proximity of countries with significantly lower average incomes, but whose citizens benefit from freedom of movement within the EU. Germany-based agencies form partnerships with organizations in Eastern Europe who do recruitment for them, and then place nursing workers with German families without registering them with local municipalities, arranging Health Insurance or check their qualifications.

From invisible workers to critical workers

The COVID crisis expresses the urgent need to bring maintenance work out of the shadows, says Frederic Seebohm. The sudden closure of national borders during the lockdown in spring 2020 made it difficult for “non-essential workers” – including those without German citizenship or residence – to return to the country. This means that caregivers must immediately recognize as critical workers – somewhat paradoxically, given that the state has long neglected the majority who engaged informally altogether.

It is also imperative for health workers to have access to the German health system. They may not only need medical care if they need it themselves fell ill with COVID-19 – without adequate testing and access to vaccinations, they are at risk of infecting the highly vulnerable people they care for.

However, the urgency of tackling the care sector in the coronavirus crisis is only the tip of the iceberg. The demand for care workers in Germany and Austria far exceeds supply. “In Austria, there will be a shortage of between 80,000 and 100,000 care workers by 2030,” said Stefanie Zollner-Rieder, a specialist at Caritas, the agency where Anne Tadrzak works. “The Austrian model is working well so far – but the coronavirus has shown us that it needs to be made resistant.”

Short-term crises, long-term trends

Germany has one of the highest proportions of the population over 65 in the EU. Relatively low fertility rates (1.4 children per woman) and a longer life expectancy (now around 79 for men and 83 for women born today) will only fuel this demographic trend over the next few decades, leaving Germany with the question that it is. looms over how to finance the growing need for care.

The proposed reforms, which are expected to form the basis for increased financial support for those in need of care, are politically relevant in Germany as preparations for national elections in September are already underway. Although it may be too late for the current election period, Frederic Seebohm remains optimistic about the possibility of reform in the sector, given that the majority of parties agree on the need for change.

The challenge of funding more care relates to ensuring that this increased demand does not translate into more jobs being shifted into “gray zones” and worsening conditions for caregivers, especially those not yet regulated by law.

A work of love

As well as highlighting the precariousness of the care sector, the COVID crisis has highlighted the importance of care work and the important role that Eastern European women play so strongly for. Reforms in Germany could also lead to changes in the way people view the importance of caring for the elderly.

“I put my heart and soul into my work. It’s not just about money – and it’s not that much anyway,” explained Anna Tadrzak by phone from Vienna. “It takes a lot of effort and patience, but I’m happy with my job in Austria, I’m happy with Caritas and with my profession.” He was surprised to receive a call from a journalist. “In 15 years, nobody has been interested in my job,” he said.


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Covid-19 coronavirus: How soon will the Pfizer vaccine be ready for children aged 12-15 years? | Instant News


Watch: Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins receives first dose of Pfizer vaccine, as does Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall.

New Zealand may not be at the front of the queue for the data it needs before the Pfizer vaccine can be approved for children ages 12 to 15, the Health Ministry said.

The vaccine is currently approved by Medsafe for those aged 16 and over, but yesterday Pfizer and BioNTech released the results of their phase three clinical trial which demonstrated 100 percent efficacy for those aged 12 to 15 years.

Medsafe is expected to provide data on the trial in due time, a Health Ministry spokesman said, although New Zealand is not expected to be on the high priority list.

“It is likely they will prioritize countries with high levels of Covid-19 infection first,” said a ministry spokesman.

Extending vaccine approval to 12 to 15 year olds in New Zealand requires first an application from Pfizer.

“Medsafe needs to review the data to consider renewal approval,” said a ministry spokesman, adding that strict safety and efficacy standards had to be met.

The trials demonstrated a strong antibody response and tolerable side effects consistent with those seen in adults aged 16 to 25 years.

That includes 2,260 adolescents in the United States, with and without evidence of previous SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the disease) infection. There were 18 cases of Covid-19 in the placebo group and none in the vaccinated group.

A strong antibody response was observed in most adolescents one month after the second dose.

Further clinical trials have started in children aged 5 to 11 years and are expected to start in children aged 2 to 5 years in early April, followed by ages six months to 2 years.

Vaccinating young people is considered important to achieve herd immunity. In New Zealand, more than 1 million people – 20 percent of the population – are under 16 years of age.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins receives first dose of Pfizer vaccine.  Photo / Mark Mitchell
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins receives first dose of Pfizer vaccine. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Immunization Advisory Center Clinical Director Dr Nikki Turner said the trial results were “very promising”.

“Hopefully, with this promising looking data, we won’t go too far from being able to expand New Zealand’s Covid-19 immunization program to children as well.

“By doing so we will ensure more New Zealanders are protected individually and also, with more New Zealanders being vaccinated, the more we will be in a position to reduce the risk of community spread.”

Covid-19 Secretary Chris Hipkins, who received his first dose of vaccine this week, agrees the signs are encouraging, but they are “early days”.

Hipkins said the Government had ordered enough Pfizer stocks to get the vaccine to everyone in New Zealand – across all age groups.

“If not [get approved], our base is covered because of the wide portfolio we have. For example, AstraZeneca could prove to be the right vaccine for younger New Zealanders, or Novavax [or Janssen]. “


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Aging Australian expats lobbied diplomat French President Macron for a reciprocal pension deal | Instant News

At first glance it may seem rather wealthy for an Australian to cry poverty after choosing to retire in other parts of the world in France.

But some older Australians and expats feel pressured that they do not have the sustainable means to support themselves due to the lack of a social security agreement between Australia and France.

This is irrespective of such a protocol that exists in between Australia and 31 other countries, including 21 people in the European Union.

France has more than 40 such agreements.

But there is no agreement with Australia, which means eligible Australians living in France cannot claim an Australian age pension, even if they have spent their life working and paying taxes in Australia.

There are also no plans at this time to seek a social security deal with Paris.

“There are no active negotiations with France,” a spokesman for the Department of Social Services (DSS) told the ABC.

The absence of a bilateral social security agreement means that to apply for an Australian pension, Australian citizens in France must withdraw and return to Australia or move to another European country that has a social security agreement with Australia.

‘Australians see a very uncertain future’

After working and paying taxes in Melbourne for most of her adult life, Australian writer Judy Crozier made new roads for herself by moving to Béziers near the Languedoc coast in southwestern France in 2015.

Ms Crozier, 66, sold everything she owned so she could continue writing and grab some joie de vivre by retiring in France.

But he is horrified to learn that there is no such thing as “retirement-portability” between Australia and France.

“It’s not something that immediately becomes clear to us,” he said.

“Information online about this is very hidden from view… and then of course, when you read that so many countries have such agreements with Australia, you are making very understandable assumptions.”

Author Judy Crozier has found new life in France and is now a key campaigner for a bilateral social security agreement with Paris.(



Ms Crozier said it was surprising that other countries including the United States, Japan and Canada, as well as European countries such as Germany, Italy, Greece and Spain had agreements with Australia, but France, Europe’s third most populous country, did not.

For Australians like Ms Crozier, who are not seeing great results, or who have moved to France because of family, romance or work ties, the lack of a retirement portability agreement with France comes as a disrespectful surprise.

It is difficult to quantify how many Australians were affected, but Crozier said there were about 4,000 Australians in France, with a proportion close to retirement and retirement age.

Nearly 300 people have signed the petition to the Australian and French governments.

Ms Crozier said like many others in the same situation, she was quick to use up her retirement funds to stay afloat.

“My super little, let me tell you,” said Ms. Crozier.

“But my own situation, which is bad enough, is not as bad as some people.

‘Terrible’ no bilateral social security agreement

A woman stands in front of a tree.
Maggi Sietsma says that her pension will run out soon.(



Former Australian Ballet company dancer Maggi Sietsma is another Australian in France who is shocked that she is unable to access an Australian age pension.

The 69-year-old has lived in a small village in the Occitanie region of southern France for the past four years with her French-Australian husband helping care for his 92-year-old mother-in-law.

“I think the fact that the Australian and French governments do not have bilateral social security agreements is dire,” he said.

Ms Sietsma spent most of her adult life in Australia traveling around the country and Asia, even dancing with greats like Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.

A male ballet dancer with eight female dancers in red costumes.
Maggi Sietsma (fourth from left) dancing with Rudolph Nureyev and The Australian Ballet in the early 1970s.(

Australian ballet: Paul Cox


But retiring in France without access to retirement age promises to be far less glamorous.

“With our dwindling income, I am horrified to learn that despite having worked for 35 years in Australia, setting up a professional contemporary dance company and providing employment for artists and arts workers, received awards and accolades for my contributions to education, the performing arts and community, honored with AM for dancing services, I am not eligible to apply for an Australian retirement age in France, “he said.

“Our only option appears to be moving to Spain, Italy or another place in the European Union where Australian retirees are eligible to apply for and receive their pension.

“But right now it’s not an option at all with my mother-in-law.

“With COVID-19 still raging in Europe, no one can travel and borders are closed except for urgent reasons.

The relentless campaign will probably pay off

Instead of retiring, Ms Crozier and others are now at the forefront of the older expat movement lobbying the Australian government to act.

They have written letters to the Australian ambassador at the embassy in Paris, the French Foreign Minister and even French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I understand talks started at a stage last year, but were abandoned,” said Crozier.

“We don’t know why, but we know this is a process that has been successfully followed by other countries… Estonia is the last one online with a deal, only in 2019.

After years of letter writing and lobbying, the group had a minor break last weekend.

Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz wrote to Secretary of State Marise Payne and Minister of Family and Social Services Anne Ruston asking them to investigate.

Senator Abetz said he asked ministers what could “be done to solve the problem”.

“Australia has social security agreements with 31 countries around the world and 21 in the European Union, which allow Australians to apply for their pension from their country of residence,” he said.

“Australia and France enjoy strong bilateral relations, and this is an area where our strong relationship with each other can work to bring positive results for both of our citizens.”

The senator said he was deputy chair of a Senate inquiry examining opportunities to strengthen Australia’s ties with France.

“That’s why I have great interest in this field,” he said.

Senator Payne’s office did not respond to questions from the ABC about the minister’s response to issues raised by Senator Abetz.

Meanwhile, as expats in France wait in hopes of government action, they want to remind the authorities to appreciate the benefits of a reciprocal agreement with France.

“I want to tell the Australian government that everything we ask is to be treated the same. In the same way as all Australians living in the other 21 EU countries,” said Sietsma.

“Also, if we lived in Australia it would cost the Australian government a lot more – in terms of medical benefits or other additional benefits we are entitled to – than paying us our basic pension here.”


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Centenarians get Covid shots when elderly people queue for immediate vaccinations | Instant News

100-year-old Israel Ahmed Meenai gets the coronavirus vaccine.

Israel Ahmed Menai, a 100-year-old man from the DHA Karachi neighborhood, has become the oldest person in Pakistan to receive the Covid-19 vaccination, Sindh health officials said on Tuesday. They describe the century man as healthy and vibrant after the jab.

“Adult vaccination center staff [AVC] at the Aga Khan University Hospital [AKUH] I was shocked to learn that a 100-year-old person had come to get a Covid-19 injection, ”said an official.

“They checked his vital organs, and it was perfect. He was healthy and fit for the vaccinations, so they gave him the first dose of Sinopharm, watched him for about half an hour and then let him go. “

For the convenience of the elderly, the National Command & Operations Center has allowed people aged 70 and over to enter the Covid-19 vaccination facility starting Tuesday after registering in 1166.

Health officials said Menai was taken to hospital in a wheelchair and he appeared to be in his late 60s to early 70s, but his staff were surprised when he said he was 100.

Israel Ahmed Menai |

“They checked his CNIC, and his date of birth confirmed his 100th birthday was a few months ago. Despite living for a century, he was quite healthy compared to those younger than him, and wanted to live as healthily as possible. “

The centenarian family had registered him with the National Immunization Management System, and then they received a code and were asked to take him to AKUH for jab, the official added.

Commenting on such elderly people showing up to get the vaccine, the official said it was rare but welcoming, and urged the media to highlight it to encourage many others to think “their life is over” or “there is no reason to be vaccinated”.

Special arrangements

Sindh immunization officials said they had made special arrangements for the elderly at the vaccination center: their staff helped them go to the center, looked after their health and other needs, and administered vaccines to them with professional and empathetic care.

“Most of the AVCs have been set up on the ground floor of health facilities,” said Dr Akram Sultan, project director of the Expanded Program on Immunization. “The hospital has staff to help the elderly, especially those using wheelchairs. Supposing there is an AVC on the first floor, our staff goes down to the ground floor to help the seniors. “

A health department spokesman said 27 AVCs had been established across Karachi: six in the West District, five each in the East and Central districts, four each in the South and Korangi districts, and three in Malir District.

I AM to rest

AKUH said in a public statement on Tuesday that the Covid-19 vaccination center will be closed to the public on Wednesday (today), adding that normal operations will resume on Thursday (tomorrow) by appointment only.

The hospital administration said that in the last two days they received a large number of people who had chosen AKUH to be vaccinated.

“Although we are honored to be the first choice for many people, we have limited capacity to vaccinate. In order to better serve everyone, starting Wednesday everyone needs an appointment for vaccination, “the statement read. “If you have received confirmation of vaccination from the government, please call (021) 111-911-911 to make a vaccination appointment at AKUH.” Appointments can be made from 8am on Wednesdays.

If the appointment is not available on the date sent to you by the government, you can get the vaccine after that date. The second dose can be given safely for up to seven days after your date.


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Vaccination of the elderly was started immediately | Instant News


More than 300 unregistered people over the age of 70 were given the Sinopharm vaccine at KarachiThe Khaliq Dina Hall on Tuesday, marked the start of the walk-in inoculation of people aged 70 and over against the coronavirus.

Vaccination of unregistered persons is carried out simultaneously with registered persons aged 60 years and over.

The Sindh Services Hospital medical superintendent said that vaccination of the parents was in line with the direction of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) and all arrangements for the walk-in vaccination had been completed.

Read: Sindh allows the private sector to import the Covid-19 vaccine

A total of 27 vaccination centers have been established in Karachi and doctors and elderly people are inoculated during the first two phases of immunization.

In addition, the Sindh health department has decided to set up a large vaccination center at Dow International Dental College, where both registered and unregistered elderly will be given the vaccine.

Health workers will not be vaccinated at the facility in the future.

Sindh health secretary Dr Kazim Jatoi, Karachi health director Dr Ismail Memon and other relevant officials visited the facility on Tuesday, reviewing arrangements and directing relevant officials to get the vaccination center functioning within 24 hours.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2021.


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