Those who provide home care to a loved one who is in need of care can claim benefits from long-term care insurance. But how exactly does the insurance help family caregivers? And what financial and social supports can caregivers expect?
At a glance
- Care recipients who are cared for at home can apply for a care allowance and pass this allowance on to family caregivers, for example.
- Those who care for a loved one who is at care level 2 or above are entitled to statutory pension insurance, unemployment insurance and accident insurance, subject to certain conditions.
- If family caregivers fall ill or are in need of a rest from their caregiving responsibilities, long-term care insurance covers the costs of a relief (stand-in) caregiver up to the legally stipulated maximum amounts.
- Free training courses are available for family caregivers and volunteer caregivers.
- Home consultations are provided by professional care services, depending on the individual care level and care situation.
Goal of long-term care insurance – supporting family caregivers
Caring for a loved one at home can be a strenuous and stressful task. Family caregivers should therefore be supported as much as possible and have their efforts recognized. Their social security and the specific support provided by long-term care insurance differs depending on the individual situation. The level of support provided is largely determined by how great the care needs are and how much time the caregiver spends providing care.
What is the care allowance?
The care allowance is not aimed directly at family caregivers but it often provides a means of support to them. People who are in need of care can apply for the care allowance so that they themselves can receive the care they need. If the assistance of a professional nursing service is completely or partially waived, family members and loved ones often take on the caregiving role themselves.
Many people who receive care from or are supported by relatives, friends or acquaintances pass their care allowance on to these caregivers – who are referred to as “family caregivers” – in recognition of the care they provide. However, they are not obliged to do so.
Family caregivers – what happens when a caregiver is ill or on vacation?
If family caregivers fall ill or need a period of rest, the care insurance provider will cover the costs of a relief (stand-in) caregiver subject to certain conditions.
Caregivers can take advantage of this respite care if they have been caring for their loved one for at least six months. Long-term care insurance covers the costs of respite care for a maximum of six weeks a year. During this time, the person in need of care continues to receive half of the care allowance normally received. Long-term care insurance also continues to cover pension and unemployment insurance contributions for the caregiver.
Respite care can also be applied for in the event of an hourly absence, for example if the caregiver has to attend regular appointments. Other forms of respite or replacement care are offered by semi-residential day and night care and short-term care.
An alternative to professional care services – what training is available?
Unlike nursing professionals, many people who care for their loved ones lack both practical experience and expert knowledge. The long-term care insurance funds are required to provide free courses in nursing care to support these caregivers in their tasks. These courses are not always offered by the long-term care insurance providers directly, and are often run in collaboration with welfare organizations, adult education centers or educational associations.
Courses in nursing care not only impart practical skills and information about hygiene and health, but also knowledge of social benefits or the law relating to adult guardianship. Among other things, family caregivers learn useful manual handling techniques and practice how to protect their own backs when lifting and carrying. The course may also cover how to deal with stress and burnout, suffering, anger, death and grief. In addition to general courses, there are also special courses on offer, for instance on the subject of dementia. Nursing care courses also provide an opportunity to share experiences with other family caregivers.
Your long-term care insurance company will give you information about which courses are available in your area. Individual training sessions in the home of the care recipient can also be arranged on request.
Care services – what are “counseling visits”?
Regular consultations by an approved care service in the care recipient’s home are intended to ensure that care recipients remain well cared for and that caregivers have all the information they need. These visits are referred to as “counseling visits”. During these consultations, professional nursing staff provide advice, for example, on nursing aids, home modifications or applications to change the care level. The long-term care insurance provider covers all costs involved.
Care recipients who receive a care allowance are obliged to have a visit at the following intervals:
- every six months for those at care levels 2 and 3
- every three months for those at care levels 4 and 5
Anyone who is assigned to care level 1 or does not claim care allowance only is entitled to a visit every six months.
Bundesministerium für Gesundheit. Publikation: Ratgeber Pflege. Aufgerufen am 21.4.2020