“Gender and care: like heart and soul or like shirt and collar?” – was the title of the impulse lecture of Dr. Alexia Zurkuhlen, chief of the gewi institute for health economy registered association. The gender view on the care stood in the focus of the 3. advisory board meeting of the project Agile care. Still the gender topic is not sufficiently present in the heads of the persons employed and the high-level personnel, not only in the care industry. In the current situation, this issue has once again taken on special significance, and the resurgence of traditional role patterns must be absorbed and reversed.
The collective imagination (not only) in the nursing sector is still characterized by stereotypes. Carers are tough, always there for others and available when needed – just like Florence Nightingale once was. As a male nurse, one feels “alone among women,” according to a quote from a male nurse’s report.
Dr. Zurkuhlen pointed out that a paradigm shift in nursing is currently taking place, which is independent of the gender discussion, but can have positive effects. This paradigm shift is: away from the image of assistance, towards management. Nursing care for the elderly, does not only include the actual care, but a variety of aspects: Health organization, appointment organization, organization or reorganization of the household, contacts and much more. Nursing staff must take on other roles, including, for example, in communication with doctors and institutions. This paradigm shift towards management tasks will inevitably lead to a different understanding of roles among nurses and to a shift in traditional “power relations”. This is already visible, for example, in modern hospital series on TV.
In the ensuing discussion, the members of the Advisory Board pointed out the discrepancy between nursing care for the elderly and the sick. While the paradigm shift in nursing care is already having an impact, even in nursing studies the topic of “geriatric care” is of interest to only a few. It is pointed out that in the meantime the proportion of men in nursing care is about 30%. This gender mix is very valuable in everyday nursing care, as it allows different needs to be addressed. The problem that women do not want to be cared for by men is now almost non-existent.
From co-operation enterprises one reports on the strategies as employers to interest men in the old person care. Family friendliness, cooperation with kindergartens, a high number of trainees, employees with a migration background, friendliness in further training, all these are success factors that also appeal to men. The promotion of female employees takes a broad framework, all those who are interested are encouraged, regardless of gender or country of origin. Word gets around, word-of-mouth propaganda plays a major role.
One of the challenges of the Agile Care project is to successfully support the paradigm shift towards management thinking and at the same time to take up the gender issue in a positive way. It is a good thing that the proportion of men in the training programs is roughly equivalent to the proportion of employees in the companies – a good sign of acceptance of the training topics, but also an incentive to take a closer look.
Identifying career opportunities in the care sector, driving forward digitization in the care sector, promoting cross-sectoral thinking: these are the tasks that all those involved, cooperation partners and the project team, see as their mission. The keynote speech and the lively and focused discussion that followed provided new food for thought and ideas for the further course of the Agile Care project.