Short-term care: temporary residence in a care facility

If people in need of care are unable to be looked after at home for a certain period of time, short-term care in an inpatient care facility is possible. Long-term care insurance contributes to the costs for up to eight weeks per year. 

At a glance

  • Short-term care is possible when care at home is temporarily not possible, for example because the carer is unavailable, the person in need of care requires more support or the home needs renovation to make it fully accessible. 
  • People with a care level of 2 to 5 are eligible to receive 1,774 euros per year for short-term care. This can be distributed over eight weeks.  
  • If the benefit is combined with a respite care allowance, the eligible amount can increase to 3,386 euros per year.  
  • The additional relief allowance can be used to finance accommodation and meals in the care facility.
A carer accompanies an elderly woman with a walker.

What is short-term care?

Short-term care helps cover periods when it is temporarily not possible for care to be provided at home. This long-term care insurance benefit is in the form of a subsidy that helps cover the cost of a temporary stay in a care facility. 

Short-term care helps cover periods when it is temporarily not possible for care to be provided at home.

Sometimes, it is not possible to care or sufficiently care for someone at home. For example, in emergencies when a carer is unavailable or if the person in need of care requires support that cannot be provided at home. 

If this problem is only temporary, short-term care enables the person in need of care to move into a care facility for a certain period in order to receive care and support. 

Alternatively, the need for permanent care and support at home may be identified during a stay in hospital. Short-term care can be used to bridge the time until care at home can be organized. 

The same entitlements and criteria apply to people with private long-term care insurance and those with statutory long-term care insurance.

Short-term care: to what am I entitled?

Short-term care is a subsidy from long-term care insurance providers for covering the costs of a temporary stay in an inpatient care facility.  

Short-term care involves an amount of up to 1,774 euros per calendar year, which can be distributed over up to eight weeks. 

In other words, the amount can be spent in multiple installments over a shorter period but not used to cover more than eight weeks of care.

If this amount is not enough, 1,612 euros of the budget for another care benefit, respite care allowance, can also be used to cover stays in short-term care facilities. This is only possible if this budget has not already been fully spent. In total, this means that up to 3,386 euros per calendar year are available for short-term care. The eight-week limit still applies.

Important: The amount for short-term care is the same regardless of the care level. The budget is generally used up more quickly in the case of people with a higher care level than for those with a low care level. 

What costs arise and how can I finance them?

Care facilities charge various costs for short-term stays. Long-term care insurance contributes to the costs of care and support (care-related costs) as well as the costs of post-treatment care.

The cost of other items must be borne by the person in need of care. These include the costs of:

  • accommodation and meals  
  • investments (investment costs)  
  • care and support costs that exceed the subsidy amount from the long-term care insurance

Another care benefit, the additional relief allowance, can be used to finance the personal contribution. This amounts to 125 euros per month and can be saved over several months. If, for example, someone does not use the additional relief for other services for eight months, up to 1,000 euros will be available to help finance short-term care costs.

Whereas the care facility will directly invoice the long-term care insurance provider for the care-related costs, you need to submit receipts to the insurance provider for the additional costs and will be reimbursed for them retrospectively.

People with private insurance have to submit receipts for all costs as such insurance providers only reimburse costs retrospectively (reimbursement principle).

Important: Nursing care allowance is reduced during a stay in a short-term care facility.

Which criteria apply to short-term care?

Care recipients are only entitled to short-term care benefits in inpatient care facilities if they meet the following criteria: 

  • There is a long-term care need classed at care levels 2 to 5.   
  • The care is taking place at home.   
  • The care can temporarily not be provided or only be provided inadequately.

You can avail of short-term care benefit if the long-term care insurance provider has recognized your need for care. Unlike with the respite care allowance, there is no waiting time.

The application for short-term care must be justified. For example: 

  • The carer is temporarily unable to provide the care and support, for example due to being ill or in rehab. 
  • The person in need of care requires a greater level of care that cannot be provided at home, for example because their health has temporarily deteriorated. 
  • The person’s home needs to be renovated to make it fully accessible for care at home to be possible. 
  • The carer is going on vacation. 

Am I entitled to short-term care even if I haven’t been given a care level? 

People with care level 1 or without a care level can also make use of short-term care, for example after a stay in hospital. In this case, the application for the benefit has to be submitted to the health insurance provider by the person in need of care.

Another option is transitional care: here, the health insurance provider pays for care to be provided in a hospital for up to 10 days if a patient requires further support straight after treatment.

Your health insurance provider or the social service team at the hospital providing the care will help you determine whether or not you fulfill the necessary criteria. 

Short-term care in other facilities 

On exceptions, short-term care in other facilities is also possible. For example, in a facility for helping people with a disability or in facilities that offer preventive medical care and rehab services.  

If the carer is treated in an inpatient rehab facility, the person in need of care can receive short-term care in the same facility if they cannot be cared for at home. This can be useful if children or adults in need of care who depend on a caregiver are being cared for at home. 

Short-term care in such facilities is approved on a case-by-case basis. Care advice centers or the long-term care insurance provider can inform you about the criteria. 

Sometimes, however, it can also make sense for the carer to have some distance from the person in need of care for their own rehab or preventive measures to be successful. Health insurance and long-term care insurance providers also provide financial support for this. Care and treatment advisors help with decision-making and provide information about what is possible in the individual situation. 

How can I obtain short-term care benefit?

The person in need of care has to apply for short-term care benefit from their long-term or private care insurance provider. This can be done in writing or by telephone. The hospital’s social service team usually provides assistance with regard to care after a hospital stay.

The application has to be submitted before you start your short-term care stay. Where time permits, it is advisable to submit the application several weeks in advance.

Important: Long-term care insurance will only pay care benefits for stays in care facilities that have been approved by the long-term care insurance provider.

Where and how can I find a short-term care place?

Information about approved care facilities that offer short-term care can be obtained from your health insurance and long-term health insurance provider or a care support center in your area, for example.

The following portals provide a search function that can be used to find short-term care facilities: 

The costs differ from one facility to the next. It is advisable to compare the prices as you generally have to pay higher amounts for short-term care from your own pocket.

If you have little time and it is not possible to thoroughly compare care facilities, for example in crises or when moving from a hospital to a short-term care facility, care support centers or the hospital’s social service team are useful points of contact. These can help you quickly find a short-term care facility.  

Short-term care: how do people return home?

Short-term care ideally ends with people returning to a home environment, for example their own home, their carer’s home or a care group home.

Short-term care ideally ends with people returning to a home environment.

For this to be possible, it is important that the abilities of the person in need of care are strengthened. Even at the start of the stay, you should question the extent to which rehab measures can be performed during the short-term care stay and how they can be financed.  

During the inpatient stay, it is also necessary to clarify and organize the way in which care at home should be designed or what can be changed to improve the care situation.  

The care facility’s social service team can offer you advice. A care support center, housing advice service or care advice service from the long-term care insurance provider can also be useful. The advice is available free of charge. The care advisors support you with all the planning stages and offer you advice on aspects such as how home renovations can be financed. 

If care at home is not possible, the social service team and care advisors will help you apply for full-time residential care services and move into an inpatient care home.  

Important: Take documents, patient transfer forms, doctor’s letters and prescriptions with you to the care facility. This makes it easier to plan your stay. 

What other options are available? 

Rehab measures can sometimes be useful instead of short-term care to strengthen the abilities of people with health problems to an extent that enables them to receive care and live everyday life at home.  

Geriatric rehabilitation is available for older people. This specialist form of rehab helps improve or restore patients’ mobility and independence after a hospital stay or in the event of age-related diseases such as dementia

Further information about geriatric rehab can be obtained from health insurance providers, general practitioners or the hospital’s social service team.  

Specialist rehab services are also available for children and adolescents with health issues, for example to enable them to attend kindergarten, school or higher education.  

Further information about rehab for children and adolescents can be obtained from the German Pension Insurance Organization (“Deutsche Rentenversicherung”)

How does short-term care affect other benefits?

In the period in which you receive short-term care benefit, the nursing care allowance is reduced to half its usual amount. The nursing care allowance will only be paid in full on the first and last days.

There is no entitlement to further benefits for care at home, such as care benefits in kind or day care benefits, during the inpatient stays.

Short-term care benefit and respite care allowance cannot be received at the same time. However, the two benefits can immediately follow on from each other.

Reviewed by the Consumer Advice Center of North Rhine Westphalia (Verbraucherzentrale Nordrhein-Westfalen e.V. – VZ NRW)

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