Elderly, disabled should do voluntary work in return for care: cabinet

The elderly, disabled and people with chronic health problems will face ‘urgent requests’ to carry out voluntary work in return for care, under new draft legislation sent by the government for review, the Volkskrant reports on Thursday.

‘Loneliness could perhaps be alleviated if the elderly helped primary school children with reading,’ junior health minister Martin van Rijn says in the draft social support law. ‘Or a retired accountant in a wheelchair could help out at the local council’s debt advice service.’

People cannot be forced to do voluntary work, as happens with welfare benefit claimants, the Volkskrant points out. Nevertheless, the draft law gives councils the powers to strongly urge the elderly, sick and disabled to do something for society in return for the care they receive.


The government’s shake up of home nursing and other care services will place more onus on local councils to determine what level of service people are entitled to and how much they should pay for it. Councils will also look at how much help can be provided by family, friends and neighbours.

‘The government is of the opinion that people should try to better their own situations or to help their partners or family members who cannot play a full role in society under their own steam,’ the Volkskrant quotes the junior minister as saying. ‘The government will no longer automatically take on this role.’

The Volkskrant was given access to the legislation, which has just been sent to the Council of State for its recommendations, after using freedom of information laws.

Some 750,000 people will have to deal with the new care regime. Local councils are being given a budget of €11.2bn to fund home care services, €2bn less than it currently spends.

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