Institutional care of older people during the COVID-19 epidemic in Croatia
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Andrija Stampar Teaching Institute of Public Health, Croatia
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A507
Background and Objective: During 2020 in Croatia there have been two highly stressful events that could have caused professional burnout among nursing home employees: the COVID-19 epidemic and two earthquakes. After the emergence of COVID-19, the Department of Public Health Gerontology at the Andrija Stampar Teaching Institute of Public Health became the coordinator for the preparation of the Guidelines for the Prevention and Suppression of the COVID-19 Epidemic for Social Service Providers in the Social Welfare System incorporating examples of good practice. Methods: A special team is formed consisting of two specialists in epidemiology and three specialists in public health, three nurses and one IT specialist. The teams tasks were: implementation of official anti-epidemic measures and their coordination in nursing homes in the City of Zagreb, supervision of the implementation of the official guidelines, 24/7 standby telephone, expert consultation of family medicine doctors regarding the application of prescribed measures and vaccines and reporting on the epidemiological situation in nursing homes on a daily basis. Results: During the peak of the epidemic in 2020/2021, special isolation departments for infected residents were organized in the nursing homes. Due to the well-defined treatment protocols and immediate ensurance of the necessary hospitalizations, we had a low death rate among nursing home residents. Among 8667 infected nursing homes residents in Croatia, there have been 1132 (13%) deaths. Conclusions: Well-defined protocols and good organisation reduced the number of deaths among nursing homes residents, and later the number of infected residents through the active implementation of vaccinations in nursing homes. Based on the experience gained during the epidemic, we have designed a special two-year program „Control of the consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic and the earthquake in Zagreb in nursing homes“with the quantitative and qualitative research on professional burnout among employees which is still ongoing.