Have you ever thought about who will look after your parents one day? Or about whether and how you want to care for your partner? A need for long-term care can develop slowly or arise suddenly as the result of an accident or a heart attack. In any case, students and employees at the University of Stuttgart have access to a care coordinator who is on hand to answer any questions they may have.
In general, a consultation can also take place in English. Then the organization of an interpreter should be organized in advance.
Karl-Heinz Hansal has held the position of care coordinator since April 2021. He has a personal connection to the issue, because he is a single father who cares for his ill daughter. This experience has shown him how complex the issue of long-term care can be. “There are a number of institutions, jurisdictions, laws and guidelines. At first it all seems completely opaque and extremely complicated to somebody who’s not in the know. I want to pass on my knowledge, as well as giving advice and support to those affected.
People need help quickly, especially when there is an acute need for nursing care. Hansal holds an initial discussion where the situation can be assessed. This is when some of the initial questions can be clarified, for example about whether or not a close relative needs to go into a home, whether it's possible to organize home care, have powers of attorney, an advance directive or a living will been sorted out and has an application for assistance been made with the relevant insurance provider?
We take you by the hand and explain to you what your rights are.Karl-Heinz Hansal, care coordinator
“I listen to them first of all, and then determine how we can move forward together”, says Hansal. It’s important that the conversations are always tailored to the individual. The advice given is always confidential. “We take you by the hand, explain to you what your rights are, provide you with informational material and go through the different steps that need to be taken.” As an example, Hansel names the right for employees to take a ten-day leave of absence in accordance with the Pflegezeitgesetz (Nursing Care Leave Act) immediately after a member of the family has been diagnosed with an acute need for long-term care.
The University of Stuttgart introduced the position of care coordinator in 2016. The former Equal Opportunities Officer Edeltraut Walla and her then deputy Edith Demuth held this function until their retirement. The Equal Opportunities Officer Silvia Meyer works closely together with the care coordinator. “Long-term care is an important issue, and at the University of Stuttgart we want to make it possible to share experiences with like-minded people”. This is why Meyer and Hansal have reintroduced the “Uni und Pflege” networking meetings.
The network meetings are held six times a year, alternating between virtual and in-person. The focus of the meetings is on exchange. “Specific issues often come up which are presented by the participants.” The most important thing is that the participants realize that they are not alone and can get support.
The next meeting will be held online via Webex on November 22, 2021 at 11.30 a.m. Those who want to be added to the mailing list for the events can get in touch with the care coordinator or the Equal Opportunities Officer. Meyer and Hansal are also planning a series of events next year for those caring for family members with a focus on three aspects: before long-term care, during long-term care and caring for oneself while providing long-term care to somebody else.
Their advice to all members of the university is: “Get organized when it comes to long-term care before an emergency happens. For example, do you know who your parents’ doctor is or what medicines they take? Did you know that to get a care place you should first be on the waiting list so that you can get help quickly in case of an emergency?” Long-term care is an issue which can affect us all.