OBJECTIVE: The Austrian long-term care system covers all types of long-term chronic diseases and handicaps and is based on a payment for care scheme. The benefit is directed to care recipients, who are - in the outpatient sector - largely free in how to use it. Herewith, the payment for care scheme also has a significant impact on the provision of informal care. The paper studies this impact for the particular case of informal care provided for mentally ill people.
METHODS: The analysis is based on a questionnaire survey of persons that are providing informal care to mentally ill people in Austria. The data is confronted with results from other studies on informal care provision in Austria.
RESULTS: The study shows specific characteristics of informal long-term care for people with mental illness which is associated with specific burdens for the informal carers. Carers and care recipients benefit only to a moderate extent from public long-term care benefits and bear comparably high material and social costs.
CONCLUSIONS: The cash-oriented long-term care system in Austria offers only limited support for the particular case of informal care provided for mentally ill people. The long-term care system needs to be tailored to the special needs of both carer and care recipient in order to achieve the stated aim of self-determination and freedom of choice. [Article in German]