Fractures in the Austrian Model of Long-Term Care

What are the Lessons from the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic?


Andrea E. Schmidt, National Public Health Institute, Austria

Heidemarie Sraflinger, Chamber of Labour for Upper Austria




Leichsenring, K., Schmidt, A.E., Staflinger, H. (2021) Fractures in the Austrian Model of Long-Term Care: What are the Lessons from the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic? Journal of Long-Term Care, (2021), 33-42. DOI:


In Austria, the number of cases as well as the number and share of deaths in care homes were lower than in other countries until August 2020. Yet, the crisis brought several idiosyncrasies to the fore, most prominently a lack of support for informal caregivers and lack of acknowledgements of the rights of live-in personal (migrant) carers. We find that the COVID-19 crisis has shed light on the fact that existing inequalities are being aggravated by gender and migration issues: 

  • The crisis highlights the need for better communication, integrated care and health information flows between health and social care;
  • Clear guidelines are required to balance older people’s right to self-determination versus (public) health concerns;
  • Increasing reliance on migrant carers from Eastern Europe has led to a dualisation of the LTC labour market in the past decades, which needs to be countered by increased quality standards and endeavours to fundamentally change the employment situation of live-in carers;
  • Informal carers are vulnerable groups that deserve special attention and call for expansion of community services in long-term care.


Peer reviewed articles