Regulate vacation time: This is how caregiving relatives find vacation substitutes

Summer time is travel time for many people.

Regulate vacation time: This is how caregiving relatives find vacation substitutes

Summer time is travel time for many people. If you care for relatives, you don't just have to book a hotel and flight. Because before you pack your bags, there is the question: Who will take care of the care?

Over 80 percent of the approximately four million people in need of care in Germany are cared for at home - often by relatives. This is shown by figures from the Federal Statistical Office. If family members want to travel, a lot has to be planned. Who takes care of it? And: Is there a chance of a short-term solution if you want to go away spontaneously during the summer holidays?

There are two options if you want to take a vacation from care, explains Daniela Sulmann from the Center for Quality in Care (ZQP): preventive care and short-term care. According to the expert, the first question when making a selection should be: "What does the person in need of care want?"

Outpatient nursing services, volunteers, neighbors or other relatives step in for respite care. The long-term care insurance covers the costs from care level 2 - up to six weeks and an amount of 1612 euros per year. However, this amount only applies if the substitute carers do not live in the same household as the person in need of care or are closely related or related by marriage. If grandchildren or siblings step in, there is less money.

The costs for inpatient short-term care are also covered from care level 2 for up to eight weeks and 1774 euros per year. The facility must be recognized by the nursing care insurance fund. Short-term care and respite care can be combined. In addition, unused preventive care funds can be used for short-term care. The other way round is partly possible.

Madeleine Viol from the VdK social association advises calculating the costs incurred before planning your vacation. For example, accommodation and meals in short-term care facilities would have to be paid for by the person in need of care themselves.

Relatives should also note: The subsidy from the long-term care insurance fund is not based on the level of care. With a higher degree of care, however, short-term care facilities or outpatient care become more expensive. This means: "The higher the level of care, the fewer days I can either afford or the more I have to pay," says Viol.

Above all, however, replacement care should be organized in good time. Because: There is no legal entitlement to a free short-term care place during a planned trip. The same applies to outpatient care services that step in at home. "If I'm looking for a short-term care place, then I should start at least three months in advance," advises Catharina Hansen, consultant for the care market at the consumer advice center in North Rhine-Westphalia.

If you want to hire a nursing service, you have to reckon with a similar time frame - especially in the main travel season: "If I want to go away spontaneously in August, then of course it's much more difficult than in November," says Hansen.

You can look for free short-term care places and outpatient care services via web portals, such as the care navigator of the AOK or the care guide of the replacement funds. For North Rhine-Westphalia there is also a home finder app from the state government, which also shows free places for short-term care.

Especially if you want to find a care offer for the holiday season at short notice, you should bring patience and a full cell phone battery. "You often have to make a long phone call to find a place for short-term care," says Daniela Sulmann.

Relatives can also use the entitlement to free care advice for insured persons in need of care in order to find alternative care for the holiday period. Nursing support centers and nursing advice centers can be considered here. "They also know the local offers best of all," says Hansen. "And if I'm looking for something at short notice, they often have an idea where I can call." Free counseling centers in your own region can be searched for using a nationwide ZQP online database.

Once a short-term care facility has been found, Sulmann advises looking at it in advance. It should be clarified, for example, whether a single or double room is available - and what the person in need of care has to bring with them. Many institutions have corresponding checklists. A care diary in which the preferences of the person in need of care are noted can also be helpful, advises Madeleine Viol.

Sulmann advises that the person in need of care should not only move into short-term care on the day of the holiday flight. Because any questions should be able to be clarified in peace before you leave for your vacation. Anyone who relies on care at home should put the care of the relative during their own absence on as broad a footing as possible.

"It's always good to have a very different bunch of players who are in this setting. So relatives, a nursing service, maybe a care service," advises Hansen. For her, when planning preventive care, the following applies: "The more short-term it is, the more creative I have to be."

By the way: If you want to travel together with relatives in need of care, you can look for care hotels that offer affiliated day care facilities in addition to holiday offers. Caregivers should make sure that they are approved by the care insurance fund, so that "you can bill for short-term care or preventive care," says Hansen.

(This article was first published on Monday 06 June 2022.)

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