On Tuesday, International Nurses Day, we announced about Addere Care of Lithuania joining Swedish Care International’s partner group. Addere Care will become a new main partner of the Queen Silvia Nursing Award in Lithuania and will be arranging the international scholarship to lift nursing talent and encourage innovative ideas and solutions for care in the country. Also, all employees at Addere Care will be trained in Sweden’s Silviahemmet care philosophy to gain Silviahemmet E+ Certification.

We talked with Alma Pundziūtė, CEO, about the nursing situation in Lithuania and their future plans to raise dementia care practices and elevate nurses.

Please tell us a little bit about your organization

Our organization is currently in the process of establishing a new nursing home Addere Care which will provide nursing, supportive care and social care services to the elderly.

There is a vast demand for elderly care in Lithuania. To our knowledge, about 600 people are waiting in line for these services in Vilnius, and in Lithuania as a whole – close to 3000. People with dementia (eg. Alzheimer‘s disease) and their relatives have no or very limited choice of care services in Lithuania altogether. We strongly believe in the necessity of our services given an increased number of people over 65 and mentioned situation of care services in the country.

When we establish our nursing home we will aim to not only provide the nursing services required, but to also deliver it at the highest possible levels of quality. The diligence, receptivity and dedication of our nurses will be enriched by Swedish nursing principles and culture. When it comes to the quality of service, we focus on Sweden for its world-renowned principles and quality of care. We are inspired by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden who took her own experience as a dementia caregiver for her mother and established Stiftelsen Silviahemmet – a foundation that is dedicated to the development and dissemination of dementia care knowledge and training for caregivers and nurses alike. Quality of life of each person is at the center of it. At Addere Care’s nursing home we want to focus on developing the empathy, care capacity and competence of our skilled nurses and their assistants. All care team members at the facility will attend training in Silviahemmet’s care philosophy which is provided by Swedish Care International in order to obtain Silviahemmet E+ Certification.

Addere Care representatives Alma Pudziute, Kristina Judine and Algirdas Jotautas visiting Stiftelsen Silviahemmet, the foundation of Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, as well as Silviahemmet-certified Hemskogens nursing homes in Sigtuna and other care facilities in Sweden. Ausra Visocke and Petra Tegman of Swedish Care International, Adèle de Waard of Hemskogens dementia unit in Sigtuna guiding during the study visit: 

In general terms, what is the situation regarding nurses and the nursing profession in Lithuania today?

In 2018, the number of practicing nurses in Lithuania per 1000 population was 7.7 (Germany – 13, Finland – 14) and the ratio of nurses to physicians was 1.9 (Germany – 3.2, Finland – 4.7). About 22,000 nurses currently provide healthcare services in Lithuania but according to the Lithuanian National Audit Office, we need 2000 more nurses in order to reach the EU average. The current situation is best described as limited shortage.

It was projected that between 2011–2025 more than a quarter (28.1%) of the current nursing workforce would leave the profession, mainly due to retirement or death as well as a possible low scale emigration.

The nursing profession was not perhaps as prestigious in the past, but the situation today is changing. Lithuanian nurses have gained more autonomy in their practice and their salaries are gradually rising. We want to help this development further and create a more attractive perspective of the profession itself. This may require a lot of efforts but it would bring a great sense of satisfaction if nurses would be recognized better, be able to suggest ideas for improvement and see them being put in place for a greater cause. This is where we believe the Queen Silvia Nursing Award will be most impactful.

Are nursing studies popular among students in Lithuania? Can you tell us a bit more about nursing studies in your country?

Currently, nursing studies in Lithuania are rapidly gaining popularity but until very recently the situation was quite different.

Soviet occupation in Lithuania resulted in no progress in nursing for many decades. Nursing education remained at the vocational school level only. Nurses experienced poor working conditions, inadequate salaries, lack of autonomy and low prestige during this period. Lithuanian nurses were able to function more independently and defend the professional interests when Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, followed post-secondary education reform which began in 2000 to meet EU standards. The Nursing Practice and Midwifery Practice Act passed in 2001 and nurses were licensed. Two levels of higher education were established: non-university (colleges/ university of applied sciences) and university studies.

Nursing studies are quite popular among young people in Lithuania now. Currently, about 2500 students study nursing in Lithuania. In 2018 about 750 nursing students were admitted into higher education institutions of which three universities had full-time 4-year studies duration and seven universities of applied sciences had 3,5-year full-time studies. All nurses with university bachelor degrees can continue their education by entering master’s programs, such as Advanced Nursing or Nursing Leadership.

Why has Addere Care decided to bring the Queen Silvia Nursing Award to your country?

We want to create as well as deliver a high-level standard of care to the elderly according to best practices from Sweden. We also want to simultaneously increase the prestige of the nursing profession by ensuring that intelligent and devoted talent is eager to become part of it, have an opportunity to be properly compensated with a respectable reward system.

This project will not only put a new enhanced way to care on the map, but also promote nursing across the country via a variety of schools and organisations. This would benefit nursing education as well as the services being provided in Lithuania and other countries, primarily throughout the Baltic states and Scandinavia.

Addere Care facilities in Trakai, Lithuania:

To ensure a high quality of care and life, Addere Care is aiming to gain Silviahemmet E+ Certification. Please tell us a little more about your Certification plans.

First and foremost, we are planning to follow the guidelines and best practice provided by Swedish Care International, Stiftelsen Silviahemmet as well as of the other aged care facilities that are certified. We were very lucky to have visited several facilities in Sweden, including Stiftelse Silviahemmet – Her Majesty’s dementia foundation which is also a dementia daycare center – where these practices are applied so we have great examples. Not only have I been amazed by the theory itself but also how unified in the understanding of key principles are both the teachers and practitioners. Once Addere Care’s nurses and assistant-nurses are hired, they will be provided with the online training (given the current situation) in Silviahemmet dementia care philosophy followed by the Leadership and Reflection training a couple of months afterwards.

What are vision and future plans for Addere Care?

When creating aa nursing home, our approach is towards the quality and culture of service which – combined with our natural surroundings that are surrounded by nature but close to the capital of Vilnius – will serve care-seeking families.

In efforts to provide a full range of services for the elderly, we will also establish an elderly daycare center along with a nursing school. Both will help address the lack of care services while changing the attitude towards the quality and culture of care in our aging country.