Short term care

When caregivers need a break, the health insurers pay for support offers

Help for helpers: Those who constantly take care of things also have to draw strength from time to time

© Getty Images / Westend61 / Uwe Umstätter

Many people in need of care require permanent care and are lovingly cared for by close relatives. Sometimes, however, there are phases in which care within your own four walls is simply not possible - perhaps because the carer becomes ill himself or has to go on vacation urgently. Then a temporary inpatient stay in a care facility is helpful.

Some homes have special short-term places available, and there are a few facilities that specialize exclusively in short-term care.

Combine financial support wisely

The long-term care fund helps with the financing. Every person in need of care with a recognized degree of care between 2 and 5 is entitled to 1612 euros per year, which they can spend on corresponding services - spread over up to eight weeks. Half of the regular care allowance will continue to be paid during this period.

Even if that sounds like a lot of money: "These services are sufficient for about two weeks at most," says Gudula Wolf, nursing advisor at the Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO) in Berlin. A tip: Combined with preventive care, the amount can possibly be doubled.

Money for time-outs: cleverly combining financial support

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Money for time off

Applying for substitute care If the person in need of care is cared for by other people than they normally do at home for a while, they can apply for preventive care or substitute care. For this, the care fund pays up to 1612 euros per year for a maximum of six weeks. The applicant continues to receive half of the regular care allowance.

Redeployment Anyone who has not yet exhausted the benefits for short-term care can also use 50 percent of them for preventive care. This means that a total of up to 2418 euros per year is available for this.

Shift again If, on the other hand, the money for preventive care is not called up, nursing care funds top up the money for short-term care - per year and patient to up to 3224 euros.

What many are not aware of: These services can only be offset against pure care expenses. The patient has to pay for accommodation, meals and so-called investment costs, which most institutions charge in addition. Many can hardly afford it.

This is where the so-called relief amount comes into play, to which every person in need of care is entitled - regardless of their degree of care. He is entitled to 125 euros per month, which he can also use for the additional costs of short-term care. The relief amount can be saved - the collected sum only needs to be accessed by the end of June of the following year at the latest. Then the claims expire.

Benefits must be requested

However, the money is not paid out. Instead, the invoice from the care facility is sent to the care fund as part of the application and paid there. If you want to avoid having to pay in advance, you can sign a declaration of assignment for the institution in advance. Then they settle directly with the cash register.

In good hands: places in short-term care are in great demand

© Getty Images / Westend61 / Uwe Umstätter

Short-term care benefits must be applied for from the relevant long-term care insurance fund before they can be used - parallel to the search for a suitable facility. "This should be done as early as possible because short-term care places are rare," advises AWO expert Wolf.

Eugen Byrsch, board member of the German Foundation for Patient Protection, confirms this: "Not even every tenth nursing home offers short-term care at all." For most providers, it is simply not lucrative to keep such places available. The expert therefore demands a legal right to a short-term care place.

Beware of reservation fees

The search for a place is made easier by lists of the long-term care insurance funds, but also the nationwide care support points or online offers from health insurance associations. If a free space is found, the staff at the facility will help with the further process of the application.

Caution: Some nursing homes charge a retention fee, a kind of reservation fee, which is not always paid with the final invoice. "In my opinion, this is an unfair practice, because money is still being made from the need of the patients due to the lack of places," criticizes Gudula Wolf.

In order to apply to the long-term care insurance fund, a form is usually required, which can be requested by telephone or on the Internet. The patient does not always find out whether the application has been processed successfully. The cash register often conducts further correspondence directly with the institution. AWO expert Wolf recommends that anyone who has not received any feedback after two weeks should ask at the cash desk.

Support from social services

Incidentally, patients who are temporarily unable to take care of themselves after a hospital stay, for example, can apply for short-term care benefits. In this case, however, it is not the long-term care insurance but the health insurance that is responsible.

In these cases, the hospital's social services usually take care of the handling as part of discharge management. Among other things, he supports the patient or their relatives in finding the right facility.