It’s the end of the month, after which coach Alexandre Dobléry always has a stomachache. He told French-language news channel RTL TVI that the energy bill is on the rug. “At the end of June, our energy budget was already exhausted. Last year, the rest of the homes lost a total of about 25,000 euros in gas and electricity. At the end of June, the bill was already 29,000 euros.”
He does not know how to proceed. It is survival.
As in the Netherlands, energy prices are rising in Belgium. 66 elderly people live in the Malvina residence. They suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or are disabled. A retirement home is a family business. The Dobbelaere family refuses to pass on the exorbitant energy costs to the residents.
Correct temperature: 22 degrees
“It’s almost impossible to turn down the power,” Dobbelaere says. “It is important to maintain the correct temperature of 22 degrees throughout the rest of the house. Older people usually catch a cold sooner. We will not force them to wear fleece jackets and socks.”
Where costs can be saved in the kitchen. A hot meal is cooked there every day for all residents. “The only thing we can do is get smarter about our food and drink supplies,” the manager says. Due to high inflation, food prices in Belgium have increased by about 20 to 30 percent. “So we have to cook smarter, but there’s not much slack left.”
The excruciating condition of the rest house in Malvina did not go unnoticed. The Association of Nursing Homes of Belgium (Femarble) has written a letter to Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo. The union calls on the government to provide emergency support to institutions in which vulnerable elderly people live, so that they are not left out in the cold.
15,000 euros per month
In the meantime, director Alexandre Dobellary is feeling drowsy. “The dark and cold months of November, December and January are yet to come.” He already knows the electricity prices for those months. “Those will be bills three times what they are now: 15,000 euros a month,” he says sober. Dobbelaere does not yet know what gas prices are. Hopes for leniency with the energy supplier. Otherwise, he may have to close the family business after 23 years.
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