With about 200 facilities, the Diakonie Neuendettelsau is the largest social welfare organisation of the Lutheran Church in Bavaria. Some 6,600 men and women currently enjoy secure full-time and part-time employment with the Diakonie Neuendettelsau. It offers the mentally disabled a livelihood and a place to live and manages retirement homes for the elderly with some 2,400 places, together with 39 schools with over 4,000 pupils. It administers four medical clinics, child-care centres, conference centres, guesthouses, various commercial enterprises and the two church workshops that make communion wafers and altar cloths.
Growth is one of the organisation’s strategic aims, but only where this makes sense, where it fits in with the organisation’s aims. These aims include not concentrating on short-term profits and rather on concepts such as sustainability, reliability, a good working atmosphere and stability. Its main aim is “commercial activities based on values”. The pillars that support the work of the Diakonie in Neuendettelsau are “Christianity”, “professionalism” and “cost-effectiveness”. These pillars are guarantees of reliability and stability. “Christianity” describes the work of the Diakonie Neuendettelsau, where everyone is seen as an individual in the image of God.
As an independent organisation, the Diakonie Neuendettelsau is a member of the German Lutheran Diakonisches Werk. The Diakonisches Werk (DW) is a social welfare organisation of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and a large number of nonconformist churches in the Lutheran tradition. There are more than 430,500 full-time employees and a further 400,000 voluntary staff working in Germany for the 26 autonomous Diakonisches Werk organisations with approximately 27,000 welfare organisations practising in their own right. Collectively they are Germany’s second-largest employer. In contrast to purely commercially oriented companies and to the state, for which the Diakonisches Werk fulfils statutory tasks assigned to it, Lutheran social welfare organisations satisfy social needs. The legitimacy of their work is based on values and ideals.
A calling becomes a profession. The Diakoniewerk Neuendettelsau was founded by Wilhelm Löhe in 1854. At that time, its main aim was vocational training. Deaconry became a vocation, the vocation became an occupation and the occupation became a profession. Löhe also opened up vocational training to young women who did not wish to become deaconesses. Löhe combined theoretical training with the practical training and thus the knowledge gained in the classroom was put into practice in hospital wards or in work with the handicapped disabled. This resulted in the current school set-up in Neuendettelsau with almost 40 primary and secondary schools and vocational training colleges.
The Diakonie Neuendettelsau is also responsible for pilot projects in the field of the care of the elderly, such as the competence centre for people suffering from dementia at the Tilly Park in Nuremberg, or at the international college and research institute and college university in Fürth, near Nuremberg. The Diakoniewerk Neuendettelsau also runs vocational schools training colleges, homes for the elderly and ambulant day-care services in other European countries such as Poland and Romania, as well as DiaCare, a service organisation care provider in Spain.
Due to current demographic developments, the health professions in particular need to be upgraded. In several EU states qualifications in the health professions can only be acquired at university level.
Together with the International DiaLog College and Research Institute (IDC) in Fürth, the Diakonie Neuendettelsau has therefore established a research centre. The IDC is also planning to establish a Private Dialogue University for European Health Management. In doing so, it is reacting to the growing need for academic training in its own and international fields of employment. The Internationale Akademie DiaLog in Neuendettelsau is an instrument for personnel and organisational development and creates a clearer profile for itself.
A changing future. The future of the Diakonie Neuendettelsau will be decided by the quality and profile of its services and hence by the professional and personal competence of its employees. Preliminary and advanced vocational training are key factors in its social work which require investment.
As a Christian and social welfare organisation, the Diakonie functions as a model. But education and vocational training is also part of its work, in which it endeavours to overcome social and economic disadvantage and gain participation in social rights.
The Diakonie of the future has global tasks. It operates on a cross-border basis across borders, moves in cooperative arrangements with partnerships and networks and, conscious of its tradition, is positioning itself in an innovative fashion. Its educational tasks are one of its essential distinguishing features in this context.