Germany: exploring other places of care, life and meaning for people with disabilities
  • Germany
  • Disability Care
  • 5 delegates
  • October 2021
A delegation of five managers of French disability care institutions travelled to Berlin from 5 to 8 October 2021 to learn about the organisation of the German socio-medical system. The German long-term care insurance system was created in 1995. It supports people with disabilities or loss of autonomy, regardless of age.
The delegates started by meeting one of the counterparts of FEHAP, the Federal Evangelical Association for the Support of People with Disabilities (BeB), which consists of non-profit institutions and support services in Diakonia for people with physical disabilities or social psychiatric difficulties. It brings together about 650 non-profit institutions throughout Germany (non-profit status means no profit and tax benefits). This first meeting was the perfect opportunity to understand the organisation of the socio-medical system in Germany, based on the concepts of inclusion and participation in community life.

Visiting the sheltered workshops of the Unionshilfwerk allowed the French delegation to see the high-quality handicrafts that the assisted people make on a daily basis. In Germany, accommodation and activity functions, be it sheltered employment or occupational activity, are separate. Organisations like Diakonie therefore have separate entities to provide these services. At Leben Lernen, participants were shown a day care centre integrated into the city, where people from the neighbourhood can go for a coffee on occasion.

Group homes are becoming increasingly rare in Germany, even for people with the most severe disabilities. The delegation visited several flatsharing facilities, an intermediate solution that allows small groups of people to live independently with the support of professional teams. At Leben Lernen, the accommodation is inclusive, and rooms are rented to students. At the Johannesstift Diakonie, the flatshares are grouped together on a large, wooded campus.
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