Vienna MS center for social counseling and psychotherapy marks its 20th anniversary18.09.2023
20 years ago, in September 2003, the MS center for social counseling and psychotherapy in Hernalser Hauptstraße, Vienna/Austria was put into operation. This brought about a considerable improvement in the quality and quantity of counseling services for people living with MS and their relatives. The modern, friendly ambience away from the hospital clearly showed the positive effect on the number of first contacts by younger or recently diagnosed MS patients.
Origin and development of the MS Society Vienna
The MS Society Vienna emerged in 1961 from an initiative of committed relatives of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), supported by doctors from the Vienna General Hospital. The official founding act is considered to be the contract with the City of Vienna in 1975, with which the financial support by the municipality began and the social service started its activities. Today, the MS Society Vienna offers a comprehensive range of social counselling and psychotherapy for those affected and their relatives.
1961-1975: The beginnings
It is not easy to give an exact date for the beginning of the MS Society Vienna. In the first 27 years of its existence (from 1961), there was only the Austrian MS Society, which was responsible for all clients nationwide and had its headquarters at the University Clinic for Neurology in Vienna General Hospital.
Since 1975, the social counselling and care of the MS Society has been supported by an annual subsidy on the basis of a contract with the municipality of Vienna (today the Vienna Social Fund / FSW). This subsidy still forms the most important financial basis for MS-specific social counselling.
Self-help groups and clubs emerge
In 1980, the first MS club was founded. It still exists today and has been run by the Red Cross on a voluntary basis since the beginning. In addition, various self-help groups were founded in Vienna, all of which are supported organisationally and financially by the MS Society Vienna.
1981-2012: Support by civilian servants
From 1981 to 2012, the MS Society looked after severely disabled people in Vienna with civilian servants. The tasks of the young boys were shopping services, help in the household and visiting services. This model became less and less important due to the possibility of personal assistance and 24-hour care, so the service was discontinued at the end of 2012.
Founding of the national societies
At the end of the 1980s, when MS regional societies were founded throughout Austria, the part of the tasks that included the care of clients in Vienna was transferred from the Austrian MS Society to the MS Society Vienna, which was founded in 1988.
1991: Foundation of the MS Research Society
In order to fulfil the research mandate according to the statutes, the board of the MS Society Vienna founded a research society (Multiple Sclerosis Research Society) in 1991, which has since supported research projects on multiple sclerosis throughout Austria.
Since 1993, free psychological counselling and therapy for those affected and their relatives has complemented the services offered by the MS Society Vienna.
Day centre of Caritas Socialis (CS) as an innovation
The first Austrian day centre for MS patients was established in 1995 in the CS care and social centre Rennweg. The MS Society Vienna played a major role in the planning of this facility and was subsequently also responsible for the psychological and social care of those affected on site. To date, this facility remains the only one of its kind for people with multiple sclerosis in Austria. As the transport costs and the entire therapy costs are covered by public authorities – the day guests only pay for their meals and a small contribution to the administration – this day centre is probably also a pioneer in Europe.
Ongoing expansion of counselling services
Since 1998, the information offered by the MS Society Vienna about the disease and possible treatment methods has been continuously expanded: Several times a year, symposia are organised for people with multiple sclerosis and their relatives on various topics related to multiple sclerosis. Approximately 200 to 400 interested people regularly take part in these events.
2003: Opening of the new counselling MS centre
In 2003, the counselling centre in Hernalser Hauptstraße was opened, thus considerably improving the qualitative and quantitative counselling services for affected persons and their relatives. The modern, friendly ambience away from the hospital also had a positive effect on the number of first contacts by younger or recently diagnosed MS sufferers.”