Who’s afraid of Germany’s Federal Participation Act?

Take this mountain of red tape in your stride

In January 2020, the third stage of Germany’s Act to Strengthen the Participation and Self-Determination of People with Disabilities, or the Federal Participation Act (BTHG) for short, is due to come into effect. This legislation is intended to increase the participation and self-determination of people with disabilities and thus to allow greater scope for individual decision-making.

Alongside a new concept of disability, the Federal Participation Act introduces numerous changes regarding the right to integration support and the processing of the costs. For each disabled person, a document known as a participation plan must be prepared.

All the available benefits will in future be classified into one of two categories, each of which is to be financed separately. A distinction is to be made between cost-of-living allowances and specialist services for coping with everyday life such as therapeutic or educational activities. For social welfare organisations and providers of integration support, this will mean a considerable increase in the administrative workload.

“As far as integration support is concerned, the Federal Participation Act amounts to nothing less than a paradigm shift. Basically, the service providers will need to reinvent themselves in many respects. That goes particularly for the providers of housing with residential support,” finds Carsten Effert, Divisional Manager of Integration Support at rosenbaum nagy unternehmensberatung GmbH, one of the leading management consulting firms in the social care sector with over 1,200 projects. “What is required will include the development of new forms of housing, along with their planning and management.”

What seems straightforward enough in theory turns out to be rather more complicated to implement in practice. With the Federal Participation Act, many service providers for people with disabilities are being faced with questions that are typical of the real estate sector – as soon as their services include any form of housing. In concrete terms, this means that the housing costs for disabled people in assisted living groups must in future be meticulously separated from the other costs of integration support. Care and support costs will be covered as specialist services, while the residents’ housing and living costs will have to be claimed as income support. The social welfare organisations are thus effectively being made into property letting companies. They will need to get to grips with, say, the individual residents’ rooms in a housing group with visiting support being classed as living space, the landings as mixed-use space, and the communal living room as specialist service space, each of which is to be weighted differently and allocated proportionately to each resident.

This example alone illustrates the huge administrative challenges that the Federal Participation Act will bring to social welfare organisations and providers of integration support.

A useful tool with which funding and service providers can implement the complex adjustments required by this new legislation correctly is offered by professional planning solutions. “As the provision of services becomes more complex and for the prompt management of the resources deployed, it will soon make sense only to plan services and resources (staff, equipment, premises, transport and vehicles, aids and appliances, and provision of care) using software. For this, client management and staff deployment planning will need to be closely integrated in terms of technology and business administration functions so that detailed and up-to-date reports on the deployed resources can be obtained,” the German Association of Information Technology in Social Care and Services (FINSOZ e.V.) explains in its position paper on the Federal Participation Act (available only in german).

For social welfare organisations in search of a suitable planning solution, Carsten Effert has the following advice: “Make sure that the vendor has a proven track record in the sector and ask the vendor for relevant customer success stories as references.”

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