A German Green Party proposal that care home residents should be provided with state funded visits by sex workers has provoked debate over the sexual rights of the elderly.

Party care policy spokeswoman Elisabeth Scharfenberg told Welt am Sonntag newspaper that authorities could fund "sexual assistants" for those unable to pay themselves.

"I can imagine a [public] financing of sexual assistance," she said. Local officials could provide information about "offers of this kind in the area," as well as grant the necessary funds, she said.

Under the scheme, care home residents would have to provide a medical certificate proving they are unable to achieve sexual satisfaction through other means, and demonstrate they are unable to afford a sex worker with their own money.

Sex work is legal in Germany, and in some care home visits by sex workers are permitted. The idea is based on a rarely used proviso in the Dutch health care system, where prostitution is also legal.

Sex worker "Yvonne", 36, told the newspaper that she catered specially to care home residents, describing herself as a sexual assistant for the elderly. "The staff are discreet about it. Most of the time a nurse takes me to the room, introduces me to the man and then says 'I'll leave you alone'," she said. "An hour with sexual intercourse costs €200, (£164) plus 50 cents per kilometre to the care facility."

Some of Scharfenberg's party colleagues have criticised the proposal. "Can't members of parliament simply leave their well-intentioned ideas packed away when they could so clearly brand us as unworldly oddballs?" said MP and mayor of Tübingen Boris Palmer.

However Vanessa del Rae, a sexual adviser for care homes, told Deutsche Welle prostitution was a "blessing" for some residents.