Spanish home care provider Cuideo has seen its customer base grow to 25,000 this year from 9,000 last year.

When Elena Lorenzo’s sister Rosario, 86, fell in the middle of the night at her home in Spain’s northern Galicia region and her husband struggled to help her, they knew she was ‘it was time to get some help. But a nursing home was out of the question.

“There was talk of a retirement home, but that was before COVID,” Ms. Lorenzo said, recalling her sister’s fall a few weeks ago.

“A home caregiver will be wary of putting you in danger, and you will stay at home: you have your slippers, your bed, your decorations.”

Business is booming for Spanish companies providing home care for the elderly, as families avoid nursing homes after they became COVID-19 hotspots in the first wave of the pandemic.

Also read: Coronavirus and home care of the elderly

Spain’s home care provider Cuideo has seen its customer base grow to 25,000 this year from 9,000 last year, and its 90,000 employees are almost double the 50,000 in 2019, CEO Roberto Valdes said.

YoCuido, another Spain-based company whose search engine filters caregivers by location, capacity and schedule compatibility, said ads from families seeking home caregivers since March were 35% higher than before. the pandemic.

“A lot of people are still afraid (of nursing homes), and even more of nurseries, because of the risk of contagion posed by transport,” said Ignacio Fernandez, president of the Spanish Dependency Federation, a group of defense.

State aid to nursing homes lost 15,522 beneficiaries between December and September, said the Institute of Social Services and the Elderly, a drop of 9% reflecting deaths from COVID-19 and widespread anxiety .

The Spanish government has allocated 600 million euros to cover dependencies in its 2021 budget. File

Rest homes – a nightmarish experience

More than 20,000 people died from COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 in nursing homes in Spain during the first wave of coronavirus, according to preliminary official data reported by El Pais newspaper and broadcaster RTVE. The Department of Health declined to comment.

“I had a horrible and nightmarish experience with nursing homes,” said Luisa Lamuno, an English teacher, whose mother was in a nursing home before being taken to intensive care at a hospital where she is. deceased, officially of respiratory disease.

Ms Lamuno said she regretted not having the means to care for her mother at home before the pandemic struck. Many others cannot afford it either.

Average state grants only cover a few hours per week of home care, said Jose Manuel Ramirez, president of the state-backed Association for the Defense of Social Services.

In an attempt to address these issues, the government earmarked 600 million euros to cover dependency in its 2021 budget, breaking with a policy that left this funding to regional governments.

Only 400,000 elderly Spaniards in retirement homes

More than a million elderly Spaniards are in need of care, with the European Aging Network, which represents both individual caregivers and businesses, predicting that number will reach 2.1 million by 2030. Only 400,000 are in retirement homes, which leaves a large void for private companies.

“Where there is a need, there are business opportunities,” Ramirez said.

Also read: COVID-19 Boosts Demand for Retirement Homes

Executives from home care groups Depencare, Cuideo and YoCuido told Reuters that in a fragmented market largely populated by family-owned businesses, they expect a wave of consolidation in the coming months as investment funds turn.

Cuideo, which recently expanded to Paris, closed a € 1.6 million venture capital round in July.

A growing sector in Spain is where caregivers come to live with an elderly person, said Depencare CEO David Gonzalez, adding: “Around seven out of 10 requests we receive are for home care services.