Denmark pays family carers to look after older relatives at home

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Local governments in Denmark are obligated to employ people closely connected to the older person – who are employed and want to care for a relative with impaired mental or physical function at home – if they meet certain conditions.

If they meet the eligibility criteria, the carers can be employed for up to six months continuously and receive a salary that was around AUD$3,600 a month in 2011.

A carer supporting someone who wants to die at home is also entitled to a constant care allowance that is one-and-a-half times the sickness benefits that the care recipient would be entitled to.

Councils are also required to offer locally funded substitute or respite care services to those caring for a spouse, parents or close relatives with impaired mental or physical function.

This respite varies from area to area but is assessed individually in the person and their situation.

In addition, there is currently a program being rolled out across all 98 municipalities to support relatives of persons living with dementia or other long-term diseases to take care of themselves to head off the decline in physical and mental health that many relatives experience as carers.

The project – which is being financed by the Danish Government between 2018 and 2021 – provides weekly face-to-face training sessions to allow relatives to share their experience and develop skills to deal with stress, potential social isolation and health problems.

Interestingly, the number of informal carers in Denmark is still relatively low however when compared to other countries – because of the availability of 24-hour home care services.

The Royal Commission has pointed to the need for more generous leave provisions and financial supports here – could they make a recommendation for a similar system to Denmark?