Support for people caring for relatives

The federal government wants to better support people who look after and care for relatives. It has therefore developed an action plan for this purpose.

At a meeting held on 5 December 2014, as part of its “Health2020” health policy priorities, the Federal Council approved the “Report on supporting people looking after and caring for relatives”. The Federal Council makes it clear that the care and support of sick family members by relatives will become even more important in future, on account of demographic developments. In particular, this is because the Swiss healthcare system lacks the necessary personnel and money to be able to cover the increasing requirement with professional care.

The Federal Council has therefore initiated various measures to support relatives and to promote the reconciliation of caring for relatives with work. Implementation should be approached jointly with cantons, municipalities and private organisations. Central to the Federal Council's report is the action plan with the following four action areas:

  • Action area 1: Information and data
  • Action area 2: Respite services – quality and access
  • Action area 3: Reconciliation of work and looking after and caring for relatives
  • Action area 4: Care-related leave or alternative support option

The report entitled “Betreuungszulagen und Entlastungsangebote für betreuende und pflegende Angehörige” (Care allowances and respite services for people looking after and caring for relatives), compiled by Careum Research in association with BASS, the Swiss Office for Employment and Social Studies, forms a cornerstone of the action plan.

Find out more about Federal Council's report

Media response

The media has taken up the Federal Council's report with enthusiasm. The Swiss radio and television company SRF presented an item on it in its “10vor10” transmission. Karin van Holten, a research assistant at Careum Research, spoke about it in the programme. One of the subjects discussed was care-related leave for people caring for relatives, with which several countries, including Germany and Austria, are already familiar.

Fernsehen SRF1, 10vor10: Bund will unentgeltliche Pflege unterstützen, 05.12.2014

Blog post

Discussion in the Careum blog

Information platforms

Information platform with videos, advice and tips for organisations, authorities and people caring for relatives on the subject of reconciling work with caring for relatives

National platform with valuable information, tips and contact addresses on the subject of reconciling work with caring for relatives


Jähnke, A., & Bischofberger, I. (2015). Entlastung von Angehörigen neu denken: Bundesrätlicher Aktionsplan zur Unterstützung für betreuende und pflegende Angehörige. Krankenpflege – Soins infirmiers, 108 (5), 19–21. PDF

Wenger, S. (2015). Die Angehörigen leisten unverzichtbaren Pflegedienst. Schweizer Gemeinde, (3), 26–29. PDF

Baumbusch, J., & Phinney, A. (2014). Invisible Hands: The Role of Highly Involved Families in Long-Term Residential Care. Journal of Family Nursing, 20 (1), 73-97. doi: 10.1177/1074840713507777

Burns, C.M., Abernethy, A.P. et al. (2014). Uncovering an invisible network of direct caregivers at the end of life: A population study. Palliative Medicine, 27 (7), 608-615. doi: 10.1177/0269216313483664