Services to people with disabilities
In all countries, home help is provided to disabled people. Its extent is based on individual need and may vary from a few hours per month to several hours per day. Local authorities organise the home help, which is provided by local-authority or privately employed staff.
The statistics concerning home help in the Nordic countries are not easily comparable. The figures for Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Finland and Sweden are snapshots, while the Icelandic data records how many people received help during the year.
Support schemes and leisure activities
In all the Nordic countries, various kinds of support schemes and activating measures are available for disabled people. These may be provided directly by the local authority or via private means. The range of services and activities varies from one country to another, and from one local authority to another. No comparable statistics are available that reflect the extent of such activities.
The support schemes are primarily aimed at enabling disabled people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Services include meal deliveries, telephone security chains or assistance alarms, home-visiting schemes, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, hairdressing, pedicures, gardening and snow-clearing. Washing and clothes-mending schemes are also available. There are no centrally agreed policies regarding payment, but charges usually apply for meals, pedicures and gardening. In all the countries, what are referred to as “daytime measures”, mainly directed toward people with mental disabilities, aim to provide support in the form of rehabilitation, employment and community engagement.
A transport service scheme is available for elderly or disabled people who are unable to use public transport or get about on their own.
Country specific information
In all Nordic countries, people with severe disabilities qualify for financial support toward the costs of personal assistance and help with everyday tasks.
And all the Nordic countries have specialised institutions for retraining, assessment of working capacity and re-education of disabled people and other occupationally impaired groups. Sheltered workshops have also been established for disabled people who are unable to maintain a job in the open labour market.
People with considerably and permanently reduced physical or mental capacity may be entitled to a subsidy toward care, supervision and accompaniment in connection with work, education or continuation of education, or further training in connection with work or unemployment.
The local authorities may also grant 15 hours’ accompaniment per month to people under 67 who are unable to get about on their own due to considerably and permanently reduced physical or mental capacity. People who have been granted these 15 hours before turning 67 also retain this right after they turn 67. In addition, the local authorities may grant assistance, in the form of a special contact person, to those who are visually or hearing-impaired. A support and contact person can also be provided for people suffering from mental disabilities.
People with a reduced capacity for work are offered training, assessment of working capacity, sheltered employment, etc., at rehabilitation institutions and in sheltered workshops. People with a permanently limited capacity for work may also find employment with private or public employers in flexi-jobs or wage-subsidised sheltered jobs. Flexi-jobs are given to people who do not draw any social pension, whereas sheltered jobs are given to disability pensioners. In 2015, 69 000 people worked in flexi-jobs.
Under certain circumstances, unemployed people who have been approved for a flexi-job, and people who become unemployed after having a flexi-job, may be granted a special unemployment benefit. In 2014, 31 000 people received this special benefit.
Families with disabled children whose child-minding needs cannot be met in general day-care institutions may be assigned a personal support worker. Support workers also serve as respite carers and are therefore able to meet the family’s needs in a more comprehensive manner than a traditional day-care institution.
People between the ages of 18 and 66 suffering from permanently reduced physical or mental capacity may be granted personal help and assistance. The aim is to give disabled people an opportunity to live an independent and active life. The disabled person and his/her support worker jointly prepare an action plan that sets out the goals and timetable for the support.
People with reduced capacity for work are offered assessment of their work capacity, rehabilitation, supplementary training courses, sheltered employment, etc., at a rehabilitation institution. The rehabilitation institution also provides short-term vocational courses. People with permanently reduced capacity for work may also be employed by private or public employers in wage-subsidised jobs.
Personal assistance is granted for people with severe disabilities for everyday activities, either at home or outside the home. This is a social service provided free of charge to persons with severe disabilities by local authorities. Local authorities may organise the services in several ways. The first option is to compensate a person with a severe disability for the costs of employing an assistant (employer model). The second option involves the local authority giving the individual concerned a voucher to purchase the assistance service (voucher model). The third option is that the local authority organises the service by purchasing it, either through its own service production or in contractual cooperation with one or several other local authorities (assistance service model). In 2015, 19 000 people made use of this scheme.
The public health sector and the Social Insurance Institution provide most of the medical rehabilitation. The Social Insurance Institution also offers an assessment of capacity for work. The earnings-related pension funds provide rehabilitation in order to ensure people’s ability and capacity for work, and to ease their return to the labour market. In addition, insurers may offer clients rehabilitation under the terms of their policies. War veterans may also undergo rehabilitation, and those left with disabilities caused by war are offered rehabilitation at least every second year.
Disabled people may be granted personal assistance in order to cope with everyday life. Personal assistance may also be granted to counteract social isolation. Families with disabled children also have the option for respite care during which another family provides care for the child/children, usually for one or two weekends a month.
In 2011, services to people with disabilities were transferred from central to local government. As a result, responsibility for disabled people’s work participation – including sheltered work in the labour market and sheltered workshops for disabled people – shifted from Statens Specielle Tjenester to the Arbejdsetaten. For those with reduced working capacity, their job may be adapted to their special needs. In addition, various assistive devices may be borrowed from the Social Security Fund’s Technical Aids Centre.
All local authorities must ensure the provision of user-controlled personal assistance. Under this scheme, the recipient of the help acts as the assistant’s manager. The recipient may also choose to act as an employer, and thereby assume a larger responsibility for the organisation and scope of the help in relation to their needs.
A trial scheme is also available that provides assistants who offer practical support to severely disabled people in the workplace. The aim is to help severely disabled people who have previously worked to get a job.
The Directorate of Labour and Welfare is responsible for measures aimed at activating disabled people in the labour market. The aim of the occupational rehabilitation is to enable jobseekers and employees with health problems to get and maintain a job on ordinary terms. For those with reduced working capacity, their job may be adapted to their special needs. Retraining institutions provide treatment and guidance for people with a range of disabilities. In addition, various assistive devices may be borrowed from the Technical Aids Centres. Disabled people with no connection with the labour market may also borrow assistive devices to ease their everyday life.
People are entitled to personal assistance if, due to severe, permanent disability, they need help with personal hygiene, meals, getting dressed or communication with others (referred to as basic needs). Help may also be granted towards other needs in everyday life, if these cannot be managed in any other way. The aim of personal assistance is to increase the disabled person’s capacity to lead an independent life. Help and assistance must be available at different times throughout the day and night and must be offered by a limited number of people. Personal assistance is granted by way of a personal assistant or a financial supplement toward employing such an assistant. Local authorities cover the expenses for up to 20 hours’ assistance per week. Should the need for assistance exceed 20 hours per week, the national government covers the extra expense.
Those with reduced working capacity may participate in various labour market measures provided by the employment service. For example, a person whose disability prevents them from getting a job in the open labour market may find a job at the Institution for Sheltered Work. The Institution’s recruitment process prioritises people with mental and intellectual incapacities, as well as those with multiple disabilities.