care4care: Need for specialists in the care sector facing aging, diversity and satisfaction

The ZAFH* care4care investigated - under the participation of all actors involved in the care process - innovative strategies in staff recruitment, staff retention and personnel development in the care sector, especially considering:

  1. The demographic change in light of the personnel situation in the care sector
  2. The diversity of employees and the people in need of care and
  3. The satisfaction of employees and the people in need of care under constantly changing needs and expectations.

To be able to make precise distinctions when working on this complex topic, starting from the socio-political design level to the organisation of public care and non-profit care to the structure and processes of care services, the planned subprojects addressed a total of three fields of action:

  • Field of action I: keep available specialists in the nursing profession
  • Field of action II: gain new specialists, i.e. access new potential
  • Field of action III: increase the appeal of the nursing profession

With respect to the projects’ overarching goals, these fields of action were integrated to the following functional perspectives:

  • care4change - strategies of change: systematic staff recruitment, staff retention and personnel development bearing in mind regional peculiarities as well as the necessary socio-political framing.
  • care4diversity - shaping diversity: handling of professional, real life and cultural diversity of caregivers, while at the same time considering changing needs and requirements of (future) people in need of care.
  • care4future - safeguarding the future of care: developing and strengthening the nursing profession by a differentiation of the level and the kind of qualification, as well as sharpening the professional profile in the context of interprofessional cooperation.

Thus, the perspectives of companies, employees and (potential) people in need of care were equally taken into consideration - also with respect to regional peculiarities - as they were further contrasted and observed in a differentiated manner. In order to reach this objective an interdisciplinary research association was designed which consists of scientists from areas such as care, education, economics and gerontology. Furthermore, the research association represented comprehensive experience and expertise in empirical social and qualification science, as well as in the area of labour market research and the management of change and innovation.

The interdisciplinary composition allowed for the intended access to the topic from various perspectives, as well as for a mixed-methods research design as basis for the implementation of the project consisting of business case studies, Delphi-interviews, explorative focus group discussions, expert interviews, written standardised interviews, and a (representative) population survey including guided interviews. Additionally, the extant research and scientific literature as well as secondary statistical data was analysed in depth.

The ZAFH care4care was successfully evaluated and extended until January 2022.


Janka Höld, Jochen Späth, Cornelia Kricheldorff: What makes them happy? Professional care-givers’ job satisfaction. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie 53, 655–662 (2020).

[*Centers for applied research (traditionally abbreviated ZAFH) are interdisciplinary, as well as inter-faculty and inter-university research associations. They are funded by the Ministry of Science Baden-Wurttemberg using the Structural Funds of the EU (ERDF) over a period of three to five years.]