Is caregiving mandatory?

More than four million people in The Netherlands take care of a partner of relative in need of help. Sooner or later everyone will be facing some form of caregiving. Do you take care of a loved one? Or do you, yourself, need support because of a disability or a long-term illness? In that case you’ll most likely be visiting your municipal government. There often is an appeal to your social network. Since 2015 the municipality determines if and how much care you are allowed to receive. In this article you’ll find the answer to the question ‘Is caregiving mandatory?’

Is it mandatory for people within your social network to take care of you?

No, your partner, relatives, friends or neighbors are not obliged to help you. It is not mandatory for anybody within your circle to provide care, as stated in the Social Support Act (WMO). The municipality where you live is obligated to provide care though.

However, before the municipal government offers you the care that you need, it has the right to find out if there are people within your social network who can support you. After it has been determined that your social circle is able to provide care, which implies less help from the municipality is necessary, it is mandatory for the municipality to provide support to your caregiver(s).

The judge determines

The municipality of Olst-Wijhe wanted to oblige a mother to provide her live-in, adult son, who suffers from schizophrenia, with complementary care. The judge decided in 2017 that this is not allowed. The son is allowed to keep his personal budget (pgb) – money he can use to pay his own caregivers and, if he so desires, his mother as well.

The municipality of Etten-Leur wanted to force a daughter to take care of her mother’s household chores – unpaid – as a caregiver. The judge ruled that this is not allowed.

A municipality has the right to inquire whether there are caregivers available for every care application they receive. Nevertheless, the municipality can not make caregiving mandatory. Ultimately, everyone has the right to receive appropriate care.

Mandatory customary care

Something that has been recorded in the law is that people are required to provide each other with ‘customary care’.

What exactly does providing customary care mean?

Here is an example: suppose a married couple turns to the municipality for domestic help because the woman suffers from a long-term illness. As long as the woman’s partner is in good health and able to take care of the household himself, the municipality will not offer domestic help through the WMO.

Source: central government

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