The AWO Willy Brandt House in Bad Brückenau has paved the way for modern nursing care concepts
Above the roofs of Bad Brückenau, white buildings gleam between the trees. The buildings in the Rhön Mountains, just beyond the Hesse/Bavaria border, look like an inviting spa hotel. And this impression continues as you enter the AWO Willy Brandt House senior citizens’ residential complex and take in the dining room with its panoramic windows and the elegant common rooms. In the rooms of the 105 residents, Stiegelmeyer beds ensure a high level of comfort. They help put the philosophy of the establishment into practice: To let every person enjoy his or her life freely and to promote his or her hidden potential.
Sabine Preisendörfer, general manager, and Udo Holzheimer, head of care services, sit in the meeting room and glance at each other with a smile: “After 33 years of working together, we’re like an old married couple,” they say. Over this long period, the two have tried out many new approaches to nursing care that have now become widely recognised.
Dispensing with restraints
“From the very beginning, we took on residents who nobody wanted to have at that time,” says Ms Preisendörfer: People with dementia who ran away and caused disturbances. Decades ago, these residents were often restrained, in bed or in armchairs, with straps. But Udo Holzheimer rejects this: “There is no reason to restrain a person outside the field of acute psychiatry,” he says. In Bad Brückenau, the opposite route was taken – for example to the openair swimming pool. The care staff had confidence in the residents and took them outdoors, took them swimming and took them home with them for Christmas. The results were amazing. Alleged troublemakers suddenly behaved perfectly. Two dementia sufferers came together as a couple.
Low beds for safety
Restorative sleep in Stiegelmeyer’s beds is a pleasure, of course. The latest Venta model, which is already being used in a few dozen rooms, sets particularly high standards.
The Venta is precisely in line with the philosophy of the Werdenfelser approach, which is so highly prized in Bad Brückenau: It preserves the mobility and freedom of its residents. “We are very satisfied with this low-height bed,” says Udo Holzheimer. “It protects our residents from falling and injuring themselves, without the need for restraint measures.” With a low position of only approximately 25 cm, the risks associated with falling out of bed are low. The Venta’s modern safety sides, which cover around 50% of the mattress area, are also valued by the experts. They provide protection and orientation while leaving enough space for free entry and exit. “We grew up with Stiegelmeyer here,” explains Sabine Preisendörfer. We’ve always worked well together, and the fact that all replacement parts are still available, even for 17-year-old beds, makes it easier to operate economically.
Cosy communal kitchens
The guided tour through the building goes past the notice board first, which invites the residents to a “sitting dance”, quiz afternoons, musical get-togethers, church services and many other activities. The tour continues up to the living areas. Cheerful singing can already be heard from the staircase: Women and men sit in the cosy common room singing traditional songs such as “Hoch auf dem gelben Wagen!”. On the other side of the corridor there is a kitchen that everyone can use: “This is where we bake biscuits together,” explains Preisendörfer. Each zone has its own kitchen.
Some of the residents become shy upon the arrival of the unfamiliar visitors from Stiegelmeyer. But the mood soon relaxes, because it’s lunchtime, and golden brown schnitzels and chocolate mousse are rolled in on silver serving trolleys. While everyone enjoys their food, we are able to take a look at some of the rooms. In the Willy Brandt House there are only single and double rooms. Beds and bedside lockers from Stiegelmeyer are lovingly decorated with colourful blankets and mats, personal items and family photos. The wood decors create a friendly and homelike atmosphere.
It is nice here in the Willy Brandt House with its friendly care staff. We are sorry to leave and start our journey home. At the foot of the mountain lies the picturesque Bad Brückenau, where the town and landscape exude a high quality of life. The AWO Willy Brandt House senior citizens’ residential complex disappears from view behind the hills, but this day in Lower Franconia will be remembered for a long time.