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German nursing care reformed

Ian Johnson
November 7, 2014

Germany's second parliamentary chamber has endorsed reforms of nursing care for the elderly and infirmed, including those tended at home by family members. The lower house Bundestag had passed the legislation in October.

Symbolbild - Rentner
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Germany's 16 federal states used their Bundesrat session on Friday to flag through planned nursing care improvements but warned that the legislative package could impose higher financial burdens on regional and urban authorities.

The package is supposed to better fit the individual needs of those in care, for example, by allowing the hiring of home helpers to stand in for relatives caught between the demands of family commitments and their jobs.

The more flexible funding is to apply from January, with betweenn nine and 28 euros ($11.17), or four percent extra per month.

Payments for each individual depend on which of the system's three categories is judged appropriate by assessors - a procedure that often leads to legal wrangles between families and statutory health funds that administer the dispursements.

Worst-affected patients assigned to Category III would be entitled to 728 euros. For patients with dementia an extra 100 euros is to be provided.

Funds to be set aside for demographic ageing

To fund the system, the mandatory deduction from a salaried workers' monthly pay packet is to rise by 0.3 percent to 2.35 percent. Singles without children will pay a higher 2.6 percent.

Deutschland Pflegerin füttert eine Seniorin im Altenpflegeheim
Germany needs reform to cope with demographic ageingImage: imago/Rainer Unkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government expects an increased annual revenue of 3.63 billion euros ($ billion) to spend on nursing care.

About a third of this is to flow from 2015 into a special fund so Germany can cope with growing numbers of ageing persons who will need nursing care it expects in coming decades.

Call for rapid introduction

The health minister of Germany's northern state of Lower Saxony, Cornelia Rundt, of the center-left Social Democrats called for the rapid introduction of the system's new assessment categories.

Ingrid Fischbach, who is state secretary in the federal health ministry and a member of Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, said a second legislative package would follow to readjust the future mixture of stationary and out-patient care provided.

Federal Health Minister Hermann Gröhe (CDU) said he believed this would lead to more caregivers being employed by residential healthcare facilities and improved quality of care for those who were cared for by relatives at home.

ipj/pfd (KNA, AFP, Reuters, dpa)