AARGAU, SWITZERLAND -- The Filipino community is elated over published news reports that the Swiss Parliament is set to discuss the hiring of Filipino nurses to help address Switzerland’s problem of its aging population.
The Swiss Federal Statistics Office had forecast that by 2050 the number of people over 65 would rise by 90 per cent to 2.2 million, or 27 per cent of the population. The current population of Switzerland is 7.7 million.
Hence the growing demand for nursing care in the country’s Alterheims (homes for the elderly), Pflegeheims (nursing homes) and in hospital geriatric wards.
Up to 30 percent of the current nurses are already Ausländer (foreigners), mostly coming from European Union neighbors Germany and France.
But Frank Wyss, secretary of the health directors’ conference of Switzerland, said the EU itself is already missing a trained workforce in nursing care, according to a news item from the German-language “Sonntag Zeitung” this month.
Wyss said health directors had opened the possibility of recruiting a nursing workforce from even far-away lands such as the Philippines.
“Filipinas are well-trained and educated and they are training more nursing staff than they need themselves,” was how Wyss defended the proposal.
The small community of Filipino nurses here said there is certainly room for more.
“Palagay ko sa aming station kailangan pero hindi ko pa alam, kasi marami ring mag-retire ngayon. Hindi ko alam kung kailan pero talagang kailangan pa ng nurse dito,” said nurse Romy Bocalon, who has worked 17 years in a psychiatric hospital in the canton.
Lilibeth Ladaga, one of the 14 Pinoy nurses and three nursing aides in the same hospital added “natuwa talaga kami nung narinig naming, dahil siyempre may makapasok na bagong Pilipina nurses. Alam mong dito sa amin, gusto nila ang Pilipino nurses dahil magagaling mag-trabaho at masipag.”
News clip lifted from 20 Minuten Online
Aside from good training and education, the Pinoy nurses enumerated the advantages of Filipinos over other nationals.
“Sa trabaho maaasahan talaga tayo, masisipag. Kuntento sila (patients) sa atin, mababait daw tayo, matiyaga, magaling mag-pasensiya,” said nurse Lucy Camay who works in Brugg, Aargau.
Concerns were raised by the Swiss over nursing care standards following a recent case of mistreatment and abuse of an elderly psychiatric patient in a hospital in Zürich. Nurses had reportedly ordered the patient to strip and dance naked and had taken photographs of the patient using a mobile phone. The incident raising raised howls of protest over the country.
But Lucy Camay said this would never happen with Filipino nurses “dahil masyadong pasensyoso tayo at iba ang ugali natin.”
Language as a requirement
But the nurses said newcomers would have to learn the local language in Switzerland, which has German, French, and Italian-speaking cantons, and even Swiss Reto-Romanish parts.
“German talaga (ang gamit), ang halo French o kaya Italian. Pero mostly German. At Schweizer-German pa. Hindi lang German, mas malalim pa,” said Camay.
“Karamihan sa mga tao dito hindi marunong mag-Ingles, kaya kailangan talaga ‘yang German sa mga pasyente at sa pagsulat, at saka sa interview ng mga doctors at sa lahat-lahat pa,” Bocalon said
They said however, newcomers can learn the language through intensive six-to-12-month courses or through in-work language trainings offered by employers.
An estimated 15,000 Filipinos live and work in Switzerland, most of them in the main cities of Zürich, Geneva, Basel and Bern. There is a Philippine Embassy in Bern and a consulate in Geneva, although there is also an honorary Consul-General based in Basel.
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