Kophis – Care-dependent Persons in Disaster Situations


Disaster Research Unit (DRU)

Branch office of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology



Financial support:

BMBF (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung / Federal Ministry of Education and Research)

Grant ID: 13N13199

Partners in Cooperation:

  • German Red Cross (DRK)
  • Institute of Human Factors and Technology Management (IAT) of the University of Stuttgart
  • The International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences (IZEW) of the Universität Tübingen
  • Zentrum für Telemedizin (ZTM) Bad Kissingen GmbH


Feb 01, 2016 — Jan 31, 2019


As a result of long-term demographic developments, the number of care-dependent persons or persons in need of personal care has been constantly increasing. The ability to provide for these care-dependent persons in crises or emergency situations presents a great challenge to the agencies and organisations tasked with public security. Since there is no centralised information about this vulnerable group, it is necessary that the social context of these persons is better integrated in the disaster coping process. It is therefore necessary to establish stable networks between care-dependent persons, potential supporters from civil society, and from those organisations and agencies tasked with public security in times of non-crisis, so that in those moments of actual crisis, help can be rendered in a sufficient manner.

The research project KOPHIS is dedicated to improving and strengthening the resilience of care-dependent persons in private households in all phases relevant to disasters and is attempting to fill a gap which has long existed: namely the gap whereby the organisations and agencies tasked with public safety, disaster management, and infrastructures of personal care were conceptually and practically separated from one another lacking any real intermeshing. The project’s innovative potential is to be found in its direct integration dependents in supporters in social space even in the project’s nascent phases. This includes both the professional and informal support through family members and friends, neighbours, and volunteers. In this conception of support and integration, local populations are then no longer seen as taking on the role of passive receivers for professional aid services and actions, rather they are actively involved and incorporated.

The primary goal of the DRU’s specific sub-project is: to develop a scenario-based understanding of the needs for assistance and resilience potentials of aid and care-dependent persons in their social relations for all phases of the disaster process. In doing so, the sub-project has proposed the following sub-goals:

  1. Generate a realistic appraisal of the needs for assistance among aid and care-dependent persons in their everyday lives in general and in moments of crisis or disaster in particular.
  2. Generate a realistic appraisal of the resilience potential within the networks of aid and care dependent persons living contexts whilst considering the social welfare structures of the state, both in general everyday live and disasters or crises in particular.
  3. Develop concrete suggestions for improving or strengthening resilience structures of care depend persons in private households as well as for their dependents, family, and close social relations whilst integrating the civil society actors in the local area as well those social welfare structures from the state in everyday life, so that they then can be trusted and relied upon in moments of crisis or disaster.
  4. Integrate the relevant stakeholders in the research process in order to take their needs and specific forms of knowledge into account, to generate awareness, as well as to ensure the realisation, the practicality, and the sustainable effectiveness of the strategies and solutions to be developed by the proposed research project.
  5. Develop and test a concept generated from the aforementioned goals for strengthening the resilience of the target groups, all on the basis of the phase model LIDPAR
  6. Generalise the various fields of knowledge relevant to the case and, above all, transmitting this onto the super-regional context.
  7. Improve societal resilience as a whole through a better coping with crises and disaster situations via, and for the particularly vulnerably care-dependent persons and their living environment.

To realise the goals of this sub-project, the following qualitative and quantitative methods are to be combined:

  1. A document analysis on the current care structures and contexts regarding the concrete needs and potentials present in a crisis moment.
  2. Expert interviews with the various groups of actors regarding the situation of care-dependent persons in private households and their anticipated / expected needs for assistance.
  3. Two quantitative surveys of the chief groups of actors regarding current care contexts, pre-existent resilience, needs, and potentials.