Inpatient and outpatient care is one of the most important areas of healthcare. In Germany, over 1.5 million people work in this field – considerably more than in the automotive industry.
© Uwe Völkner, Fotoagentur FOX
As the current pandemic has shown once again, the work done by professional nurses and carers is of enormous societal significance. The approximately 1.7 million people employed in this field in Germany make crucial contributions to vital community services day in, day out. At the same time, they have to cope with diverse physical and mental demands - from lifting and carrying heavy loads to handling severe time pressure and the challenging behaviour of some care recipients and their relatives. Yet more burdens have been heaped upon nursing and care staff since the coronavirus started to take hold - including their noticeably raised risk of infection and having to implement the rules on contract restrictions.
It is therefore essential for work to be designed in ways that promote good health specifically for this large group of employees. The hope is that this will also attract more people to careers in nursing and care again, and so prove an effective way of tackling the shortages of staff that are evident today.
Within the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin), Unit 3.3, Designing Service Work, focusses on specific aspects of safe, healthy working in the professional nursing and care sectors. The research it does is based on the pressures and strains that confront workers in the contemporary world, and is aimed at identifying work organisation measures that help individuals deal with unfavourable combinations of stressors. This also involves looking at the opportunities offered by the application of digital technologies and the limitations of such approaches. The findings reached are incorporated into practical guidance documents, as well as being discussed at events for nurses and carers, their managers, and occupational safety and health practitioners. In addition, they inform the scientific advice provided for policymakers at the national and federal state levels.
Current topics include:
These topics are covered in research projects as well as within the New Quality of Work Initiative (INQA) – particularly by the "Healthy Care" network (Offensive Gesund Pflegen) – as well as by transfer projects and regional events.