Dr. Helga Seel, Managing Director of the Federal Association for Rehabilitation (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Rehabilitation, BAR) in Frankfurt is able to answer some of these questions. "Rehabilitation is a process that is not just about approving or rejecting an application but about providing personalized support. This also includes counseling patients about available benefits and options. It focuses on answering questions such as who is involved? What is the general framework? How restricted is participation and what are the services to improve the participation aspect?"
Meanwhile, there are several institutions in Germany that are responsible for rehabilitation issues. The responsible service provider has to be determined on a case-by-case basis and is subject to many factors. Age and a potential job situation, as well as the cause of the illness, play an important role. The responsible rehabilitation service provider may vary depending on the incident. That being said, despite the difficulties in determining the responsible authority – which is something that still needs improvements in the future – the task of the individual responsible body remains the same: "Needs recognition and assessment are the keywords in this setting. The consultants must be able to determine rehabilitation eligibility. The sooner this need has been identified, the higher the chances for the patient to prevent or minimize participation restrictions. Another aspect is to focus on needs assessment, meaning to identify relevant services."
Dr. Seel continues: "As a general rule, the sooner a patient accesses the relevant support services, the less time and effort is needed for rehabilitation. This is first and foremost beneficial for the patient. But – and this is something that is definitely worth noting – early assistance services are often also less expensive."
Thanks to rehabilitation measures, annually more than 100,000 people remain fit for work, who might otherwise quite possibly have left the labor force early and would have retired. In other words, there are also financial reasons the state welfare system must consider. After all, any rehabilitation measure, regardless of the type, is less expensive than having to pay for a lifetime of care. That’s also why the motto is "Rehabilitation before long-term care". However, Dr. Seel points out that "once care has become necessary, it doesn’t automatically mean that rehabilitation measures are out of the question. Rehabilitation measures can also help improve the quality of life of patients in care settings." After all, it’s not just older people who are affected by care issues but also children and adolescents.