Unemployed Germans to Give a Helping Hand to Dementia Patients

by VR Sreeraman on Aug 18 2008 12:03 PM

Several thousand long-term unemployed Germans will be trained to care for people suffering from dementia, Suddeutsche Zeitung daily reported of a scheme that has drawn mixed reactions.

A law introduced on July 1 gives retirement homes extra staff to help care for people with dementia.

Groups of unemployed candidates are currently undergoing training across the country, a spokesperson for Germany's employment agency told the newspaper.

People who have been unemployed for at least twelve months will be made to carry out a range of household tasks, such as going on shopping trips.

Qualified candidates must also have had experience in the health care sector.

Health insurance companies are footing the bill for the project which will create approximately 10,000 new jobs by early September.

The German health ministry confirmed the project, which has drawn criticism from a number of mental illness experts.

"We cannot send just anyone to work in this field," said Claus Fussek, a specialist based in Munich, in an interview on the television channel ZDF. "These jobs require motivated people."

Candidates chosen for the scheme will receive 160 hours of theoretical instruction and several internships, Suddeutsche Zeitung reported.

By contrast, training to become a healthcare assistant normally lasts 900 hours, according to the spokesperson for Germany's Alzheimer's society, which is opposed to the project.

However, a German MP welcomed the project.

"If these people who have a stain on their record become qualified to do this, then great," said Volker Kauder, chairman of the Christian Democratic Union parliamentary group in the Bundestag.