The fewer nurses there are, the less time is left, for example, for interpersonal relationships. Especially people in need of care and older people who can not be cared for by relatives then face loneliness. A support network of volunteers tries to remedy the situation. Thomas Oeben is chairman of the board at your neighbor
Washing clothes, cooking, going to the doctor, keeping the apartment clean – What was possible for years without any problems, becomes a challenge for many people in old age. They suddenly need help , because they can not move so well. If dependent and elderly people have no relatives nearby who can take care of them on a regular basis, they will have to resort to care services or move to a nursing home.
The support network Your Neighbor eV now offers an alternative. With “trained volunteers, it wants to give those in need of care a lot of time and support them and their relatives in the daily tasks,” says CEO Thomas Oeben. The helpers come from the neighborhood and take care of, for example, cooking or shopping, accompany people in need of help at medical appointments or simply spend time playing cards or going for a walk with older people. In an interview with finanzen.de Oeben explains why the club was founded and how it differentiates itself from a nursing service.
How did you come up with the idea of founding your neighbor eV?
Thomas Oeben: The idea of building an efficient and cost-effective social support network came to me when, at the end of 2014, the topic of demographic change was very much in the media and was highlighted in the magazine Der Spiegel every week by a different source. The enormous increase in the number of people in need of care was described by the year 2030 by 50 percent to 3.9 million people. At the same time, the number of potential helpers from the 50- to 64-year-old generation who could care for over 80s is 34 percent lower. In addition, 500,000 nurses will be missing.
At that time, I was COO in a medium-sized logistics management AG, which has set up and centrally controlled nationwide Europe-wide waste disposal networks with very high quality standards in the automotive and electrical industries with different service providers. Based on very streamlined processes and high-performance IT, we have handled more than two million orders per year with only 50 employees.
We quickly realized that with an interdisciplinary approach, we can make a very big contribution to closing the supply gap . So two former colleagues from logistics, friendly doctors and I founded the non-profit association Dein Nachbar eV We bundled logistic network management knowhow with the experience of nurses and the activation of a large number of volunteer helpers to build up a binding, nationwide support network. The processes were underpinned by a high-performance IT infrastructure and digitized the complex aid search and the distribution of missions to keep the administration extremely slim and to ensure any scalability.
How many helpers has the network grown since its founding?
Thomas Oeben: In two years we have gained 280 volunteer helpers and 180 of them have been trained as day-to-day companions, so that they can also take care of people in need of care and support family caregivers.
How are the volunteers insured as part of their job, such as dropping a plate while rinsing or accidentally injuring them when accompanying elderly people to the doctor?
Thomas Oeben: For our volunteers, we have covered the maximum insurance coverage , as we do not want a committed person to be liable for a mistake. All our helpers are liable and accident insured. In addition, we have taken out a business travel insurance policy in order to be fully secured in the event of a self-inflicted accident during an escort service.
Their social support network focuses primarily on older and needy people. What challenges are associated with your work?
Thomas Oeben: At first, when no-one knew the name of your neighbor, the clients were especially suspicious . But with our concept, we have always had a high level of support from volunteers. Thus, we gradually succeeded in establishing a good reputation in the district through the trusting work of our full-time nurses in the care counseling and training of family caregivers. In the meantime, the network covers large parts of Munich and enjoys a high demand.
The services of your neighbor eV are partly similar to those of a classic nursing service. What is special about your service?
Thomas Oeben: We see ourselves as a supplement to the nursing services because we do not carry out nursing activities. The Friedrich Ebert Foundation estimates the shortage of nurses for the year 2030 at half a million full-time jobs. This means that nursing services will not be able to meet the nursing need and accordingly have no time to care for clients . With our network of trained volunteers we want to give the needy a lot of time and support them and their relatives in doing the daily things. And in a binding and cost-effective manner.
So far, the volunteers are only traveling in Munich. Are you planning to extend the neighborhood service to other cities?
Thomas Oeben: We are able to set up three branches in the next few months. However, it is difficult for a charitable association to secure the necessary start-up funding. That is why we are looking for communities that are involved and social investors who provide us with a loan with a fair interest rate.