REHACARE.com spoke with Max Prigge of careunities about independent living with physical disabilities and care needs.
Mr. Prigge, what is the objective of careunities?
Max Prigge: Our goal is to team up people with physical disabilities and afford them the opportunity to live an independent and self-determined life. Their health care situation oftentimes prevents people from living independently because it is unaffordable. Shared housing accommodations ensure that care needs can be better organized by all residents. Among other things, carer’s allowances can be added up to relieve residents financially. What’s more, health insurance companies in Germany encourage the setup of shared housing accommodations by awarding 4,000 euros per resident as yet another incentive.
One of our other goals is to create shared living spaces ourselves by retrofitting vacant buildings and making them accessible to be able to rent them to those in need. We subsequently also support these shared living arrangements. Our shared living accommodations are not tied to any landlord, allowing residents to freely choose how to organize their care needs and requirements.
What can interested parties expect when they visit the online platform?
Prigge: Interested parties can find information about the idea behind our platform. If this piques their interest, they can sign up for free either as a party that is looking for an accommodation or as a party that rents out their space. Landlords post their future or already existing shared living space. Home seekers can enter information they would like to share with the landlord online and can then apply for their preferred options. As soon as the landlord accepts this application, contact information is being exchanged, allowing home seeker and landlord to get in touch. The homepage also provides information on how to set up a shared living space.
How does/did this endeavor include people who have a disability?
Prigge: The idea originated thanks to conversations with people who have a disability. This means that the affected parties were included right from the start. I suffer from osteogenesis imperfecta (fragile bones that break easily) and have worked for careunities since November 2018. My own experiences and the knowledge that I gained thanks to my volunteer work for organizations such as the German Osteogenesis Imperfecta Association enable me to evaluate and assess the different needs and mindsets of our potential clients. This has allowed us to find ways to ensure that the residents of shared living accommodations are able to organize their care needs independently and are not reliant on an outpatient nursing care service.
So far, the feedback has been very positive. Needless to say, this concept has not been extensively tested yet with a focal point on people with a physical disability and is therefore something that’s new to many. Nevertheless, many who embrace this fundamental subject matter recognize the urgent need. Some worry that the residents of our shared living accommodations might not be free to choose their preferred care services and how they spend their free time. We want to take away this fear and allay their concerns because the well-being and self-determination of every single tenant is of utmost importance to us. Honoring the idea of self-determination, residents can freely choose and arrange their care, assistance and support services. Nobody will have to depend on the nursing service of our choice. What’s more, all members of the shared living accommodations jointly decide whether or not a roommate is accepted into the living quarters.