Relatives play a key role in domestic and in-patient healthcare. Having said this, relatives living locally who are able to take on primary care and support are becoming an increasingly scarce resource. Reasons for this include demographics, changing values and changing family structures. New forms are thus required, where people are prepared to make private and largely unpaid informal contributions to support and care work. This should also go beyond the previously predominant routine which saw the main carer being highly involved on-site.


Although the social relevance of remote care and support is increasing, the subject has barely been discussed from a scientific, sociopolitical and operational perspective. This is where the binational, interdisciplinary research and development project “Distance Caregiving” begins, investigating the potential for care and support across national distances and international borders. The project is being run jointly by the Ludwigsburg Protestant University of Applied Science (Germany) and Careum Research. It aims to focus on relatives in society, at work and in healthcare and social services.
Overall, “Distance Caregiving” is an eye-opening project. In addition to the conventional assistance associated with “care”, “Distance Caregiving” also considers a number of other support Services.
These include the following:

  • Emotional support
  • Finding decision-making routes
  • Motivation
  • Coordination/administration/Organisation
  • Information
  • Control and security

Research design

A multi-methodological concept focusing on participation, transferability and sustainability; quantitative secondary analyses, interviews with experts, problem-focused individual interviews; close interrelation with research and development, as well as Transfer.

Projekct team

Careum Research: Prof. Dr. Iren Bischofberger, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Otto, Karin van Holten
Ludwigsburg Protestant University of Applied Science: Prof. Dr. Annette Franke, Dr. Birgit Kramer, Helena Kunz, Marketa Kindl


  • Daimler AG
  • Wüstenrot & Württembergische AG
  • Statistisches Landesamt Baden-Württemberg
  • Evangelische Diakonissenanstalt Stuttgart
  • BruderhausDiakonie, Reutlingen



External funding

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, SILQUA programme


Bischofberger, I., Franke, A., Otto, U., & Schnepp, W. (2017). Pflegebedürftige Angehörige aus Distanz unterstützen: Zwei Fallstudien. Pflege & Gesellschaft, 22(1), 84-93.

Bischofberger, I., Otto, U., & Franke, A. (2015). Distance Caregiving: Wie Angehörige ihre pflegebedürftigen Nächsten unterstützen können. Competence, 79 (3), 28–29. PDF

Otto, U., Bischofberger, I., Hegedüs, A., Kramer, B., van Holten, K., & Franke, A. (2017). Wenn pflegende Angehörige weiter entfernt leben – Technik eröffnet Chancen für Distance Caregiving, ist aber nicht schon die Lösung. In I. Hämmerle & G. Kempter (Hrsg.), Umgebungsunterstütztes Leben. Beiträge zum Usability Day XV (S. 140–148). Lengerich, Westfalen: Pabst Science Publishers. PDF

Otto, U., Tarnutzer, S., & Brettenhofer, M. (2015). Telemedizin für Ältere – Chancen mehren, kritische Punkte angehen! Therapeutische Umschau, 72 (9), 577–579. doi:10.1024/0040-5930/a000721

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8006 Zürich
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