The introductory presentations by Austrian and German experts showed the differences and similarities between two countries sharing not only the same language but also a similar welfare regime, based on social insurance. Latest reforms have definitely increased public funding, but long-term care still remains a late-comer in social protection with difficulties to overcome its links to social assistance rationales.
The establishment of ‘Dementia Strategies’ has been a recurrent activity in many European countries over the past decade. Austria presented its strategy ‘Living well with dementia’ in 2016, in Germany several Länder have started to implement their strategies as well, for instance Bavaria. Presentations revealed that the participative processes resulted in the definition of very similar aims in Austria and Bavaria, and a number of initiatives and reform projects could definitely learn from each other, rather than re-inventing the wheel on both sides of the border.
The bulk of long-term care remains being provided by informal and family carers both in Austria and Germany – to a large degree by partners above pension age, but to a large extent also by sons and, mainly, daughters at working-age. Support mechanisms for informal carers who need to combine work and care are therefore key to sustain this invaluable resource. Still, recent reforms in this area show good intentions, but take-up rates of care leave regulations remain rather low and show once more the difficulties in combining life-world needs and requirements of the world of work.