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Adult children may be paid to care for elderly parents

 By Nina Berglund

Aftenposten, August 28, 2003

Parents of small children in Norway already can receive special welfare payments if they opt to keep their toddlers at home instead of sending them to day-care centers. Now the concept may be extended to grown children who keep their elderly parents at home.

The program, called kontantstoette, or literally "cash support," is meant to compensate families that don't use state-supported facilities. It also transfers responsibility for family members to the families themselves.

In the wake of harsh criticism over poor conditions in state-supported nursing homes, one Member of Parliament from the Conservatives says more options are needed.

"The elderly need care and social contact," MP Afshan Rafiq told newspaper Dagbladet. "I think many people would keep their elderly at home if they got some economic support."

He thinks families should get monthly welfare payments of as much as NOK 8,000 (about USD 1,100) if they took care of elderly family members at home.

Social Minister Ingjerd Schou, who also hails from the Conservatives, called the proposal "interesting" because it could provide more options in dealing with the challenges of care for the elderly.

Schou has been under intense pressure this week after a report revealed inadequate care in many Norwegian nursing homes. In some cases, elderly patients were awakened at 4am so that understaffed nursing homes could have all patients washed and dressed in time for breakfast.

In other cases, patients were forced to endure lengthy delays for medication or toileting assistance, or were put to bed as early as 5pm, again because of understaffing.

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