LTCcovid Country Profile – Printable Version

1.00. Brief overview of the Long-Term Care system

Long-term care in Portugal is mainly provided by unpaid (mostly family and mostly women) carers, as well as a mix of public and private providers, with a strong role for non-profit providers.

In 2006 the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, Social Solidarity and Social Security established a National Network of Long-Term Integrated Care (Portuguese acronym: RNCCI), with the aim of providing care, health and social support to persons with functional dependency, with an emphasis on integrated care.

In parallel, there is a Network of Social Services (RSES) affiliated to the Ministry of Labour, Social Solidarity and Social Security, which provides social services to people with low resources or who experience social exclusion.

There is currently no mechanism for joint provision of services between the RNCCI and the RSES, but there are efforts to coordinate care happen at local level. There are concerns that the current system leads to over-institutionalisation and duplication of provision and that not enough support is in place for unpaid carers.


Lopes, S., Mateus, C. & Hernandez-Quevedo, C. (2018). Ten years after the creation of the Portuguese National Network for Long-Term Care in 2006: Achievements and challenges. Health Policy 122, 210-6. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2018.01.001

Tello, J.E., Pardo-Hernandez, H., Leichsenring, K., Rodrigues, R., Ilinca, S., Huber, M., Yordi Aguirre, I. & E. Barbazza (2020). A services delivery perspective to the provision of long-term care in Portugal, Public Policy Portuguese Journal, Vol. 5(1), 8-25. Retrieved from: European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research

Update for: Portugal   Last updated: February 10th, 2022

1.03. Long-term care financing arrangements and coverage

In 2016, public LTC expenditure in Portugal represented an estimated 0.5% of Gross Domestic Product (source: European Commission: The 2018 Ageing Report).

Update for: Portugal   Last updated: February 10th, 2022

2.02. Deaths attributed to COVID-19 among people using long-term care

Although no official reports have been published, the Government of Portugal released the number of deaths in nursing homes to the media. According to data published in the media, as of January 10, 2021, 2,254 people have died in nursing homes, corresponding to 2.27% of all the 99,000 residents in legal care homes in Portugal. On the same date, 7,803 deaths attributed to COVID-19 had been reported in Portugal. Therefore, the deaths of care home residents as a share of total deaths would be 28.9% (Source:

Update for: Portugal   Last updated: August 3rd, 2021

2.09. Impact of the pandemic on workforce shortages in the Long-Term Care sector

An OECD paper  notes that Portugal’s LTC facilities experiences staff shortages during the pandemic, exacerbated by high levels of sickness among staff, e.g. workers in LTC facilities accounted for about a third of COVID-19 related sick leave.

Update for: Portugal   Last updated: February 1st, 2022

4.06. Reforms to improve support for unpaid carers

In 2019 Portugal introduced a major reform establishing a formal status for informal carers, with  the right for ‘principal carers’, who provide care on a permanent basis, to receive a carer’s allowance. This is conditional on: the carer being a family member and living in the same household as the care recipient; not receiving any remuneration (for instance from work, pension); and the household in which the principal carer lives having an income below a certain threshold. The law also introduced new rights for both principal and non-principal carers, including the right to: accumulate social security credits; receive training; receive information and psychological support; and respite periods. The new law also contains rules to facilitate the work-life balance of ‘non-principal informal carers’ (source: Publications catalogue – Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion – European Commission (

Update for: Portugal   Last updated: November 23rd, 2021