Until recently, long-term care (LTC) for older people has been a residual area of the European welfare systems. Social care has long represented a marginal element of the welfare systems in many European countries, and has primarily been based on pension and income-maintenance programmes and cash benefits. Policy programmes still receive limited funding and LTC relies on informal care in most countries. But due to recent developments in demographic, social and economic factors significant changes are taking place in the direction of increased focus on integration of LTC in the welfare state schemes. 1 Nevertheless, the provision of LTC services to older people is described as fragmented in almost all European countries - the plurality of actors involved being one of the main characteristics for this policy field (Ascoli and Ranci, 2002b; Alaszewski, Billings and Coxon, 2004; Burau, Theobald and Blank, 2007).