Denmark gets its first elderly home for immigrants

The care home personnel will be instructed in how to welcome elderly individuals from a different culture and religion

The City Council is expected to agree to establish Denmark’s first elderly home for non-ethnic Danes this week, according to Kristeligt-Dagblad newspaper.

The Peder Lykke Centre in Amager will cater to the estimated 20 percent of the city's population who are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, but who only accounted for 68 of the 3,800 elderly home residents in Copenhagen in a 2010 analysis.

The plan is for elderly with, for example, Turkish, Pakistani or Chinese backgrounds to receive offers to live side by side with Danish elderly in order to create a more diverse elderly environment.

Ninna Thomsen (Socialistisk Folkeparti), the deputy mayor for health and care in Copenhagen, believes that there is a massive demand for elderly care for the growing number of older immigrants.

“The personnel must be able to welcome people from another culture and handle a situation in which an elderly person suffering from dementia forgets their Danish language and only speaks their mother tongue,” Thomsen told Kristeligt-Dagblad.

The Peder Lykke Centre has 148 elderly care housing units and is one of the biggest elderly care centres in Copenhagen, with about 170 members of staff.

“When you need help 24 hours a day, then we should be able to provide care to all the city's elderly, whatever their language and background,” Mette Olsen, the head of the Peder Lykke Centre, told Kristeligt-Dagblad. “It is not important whether you come from Oslo or Albania – our offer must cater to each individual with their own unique life story.”

Heidi Wang, a Liberal Alliance member of the city's health and care commission, has Chinese roots and evaluated that a diverse elderly home will be welcomed by the roughly 200 Chinese people over the age of 80 who live in the capital.

“Traditionally, it is the children that must mind the elderly, but the younger generations can’t do that. So it is best for both parties if they can come to an elderly home where they feel secure and can enjoy the company of other Chinese people,” Wang said.

Even right wing party Dansk Folkeparti (DF), which has previously criticised the notion of special elderly homes for immigrants, seem to be coming around, with exceptions.

“It is important that there are also Danes living in the elderly homes,” Birthe Skaarup, a DF member of the health and care commission, said. “We shouldn’t have purely ethnic elderly homes.”

The transition of the new-Danes to the elderly homes will occur through a gradual process as housing units become available.