This report has been published on the dedicated website that the International Long-Term Care Policy Network (ILPN) and the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre (CPEC) have launched at the very beginning of the pandemic in Europe. The website provides up to date blogs, resources and reports from scholars across the globe.
- The Austrian LTC system has been placed under huge pressure during the COVID-19 crisis as it has not been considered the most important area of intervention from the onset. Masks and security gear were and partly still are missing in care homes and especially in home care. However, the number of cases as well as the number of deaths in care homes is likely to be much lower in Austria than in other countries.
- The Austrian government has created a 100 million euro LTC support fund to help regional governments find alternative sources of provision, if informal carers who provide more than 70% of all care, or personal carers who cover about 6-7% of people in need of care, cannot might drop out due to illness, travel restrictions or other reasons.
- An issue with the Austrian LTC system is its significant reliance on live-in migrant carers (personal carers) from the neighbouring Slovak and Czech Republics, but increasingly also from Romania and Bulgaria.
- COVID-19 travel restrictions are drastically challenging this model and regional governments have done little to safeguard the continuity of care at home by migrant carers. After up to six weeks of round the clock care, carers who normally work two week shifts are suffering from physical and emotional stress, while those who are currently stranded in their home countries and are consequently unable to work, are left with no income during this period.
- Further debate about LTC reforms in Austria is needed, in particular regarding the model of ‘24-hour care’ provision by live-in migrant carers. This also needs to be addressed in a wider European context, as most countries are using the model without any regulations. This compromises the working conditions and social security of care workers and eventually the safety of people in need of care.