After years of efforts, Austria has now succeeded in ensuring appropriate inpatient rehabilitation services for children and adolescents. In Austria, this means about 5,000 children every year who are so seriously ill that they need rehabilitation. Until now, there were no special children’s rehabilitation centres. Until now, sick children were either cared for together with adult patients in small departments for rehabilitation or had to move to Germany.
The current rehabilitation plan provides for the need of children’s rehabilitation centres for the whole of Austria in four care zones with eleven indication groups and a total of 343 beds for children and adolescents (plus those beds for relatives). According to a recent press release by the Minister of Health, an additional amendment to the law is to be made in autumn, which will enable parents to participate in rehabilitation measures with their children aged 0 to 18.
Interview with Mag. Stephan Günther, Secretary General of the Association of Private Hospitals in Austria
“Our demands and lobbying actions have been heard. We have fought for decades and especially in recent years to maintain our own rehabilitation facilities for children, as children are not small adults.
The Rehabilitation Plan has created the possibilities for children’s rehabilitation and a public tender has been launched to implement these development prospects together with several operators. In our clinic group* we have rehabilitation for adults and for children and this is not comparable. We do not organise the rehabilitation of children purely according to types of diagnosis (mental versus physical illnesses) so that the children are not stigmatised. This type of care is very innovative and our waiting lists have exploded since then.
The new law will make it possible for other groups to make use of the specialised rehabilitation centres. This is especially true for those families who were previously unable to afford to use them for professional and often related financial reasons. Parents should be given the opportunity to accompany their children by having the possibility to take a paid break from work and to concentrate entirely on their sick children during this time. Likewise, if parents are affected themselves, they should be able to take advantage of rehabilitation together with their children, but unfortunately they do not have the right to do so at present. For this reason, the rehabilitation of children in Austria will probably take some time until it can really cover all the needs of children and parents.
The entire profession and especially the private rehabilitation facilities are nevertheless very pleased with these developments, which make it possible to provide much better care for our young population”.
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*Reha Zentrums Münster in Tyrol, Klinikum Austria Gesundheitsgruppe GmbH, five rehabilitation clinics throughout Austria and two rehabilitation clinics for children and adolescents.