Denmark passed a law in 2015 requiring older people to undertake reablement before receiving home care – delivering 60% success rate

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Since January 2015, local governments in Denmark have been required by law to assess all older people applying to receive home care for reablement and provide the necessary services if they meet the criteria.

If they don’t, conventional home care is offered (around 14% of Danish over-65s receive home care).

The concept initially took off in the Fredericia municipality in 2007/2008 but spread rapidly – by 2010, around 92 out of the 98 municipalities offered reablement.

Since the change in legislation, all do but are free to choose the model under which they offer services.

The programs – which usually run for between three and 12 weeks – are designed to help the older person fully or partly regain their ability to carry out daily tasks such as shopping, dressing or cleaning as well as improve their overall mobility like climbing stairs.

Home care staff visit daily, working together with occupational therapists and physiotherapists and clients to set goals – and it works.

While there is not much data available on its effectiveness, local governments report take-up rates of up to 80% and new cases and an up to 60% success rate in terms of improving functional ability – in some cases so much that the older person no longer needs assistance.

The system is not perfect – studies have shown the number of older people with unmet needs has risen since reablement was introduced which researchers put down to some people being reluctant to accept help or be motivated to improve.

But it has made a difference with around 80% of participants saying they are very satisfied with their rehabilitation.

Interestingly, research has also shown that home care workers who provide reablement services are less likely to want to quit their work and generally find their work more meaningful (pictured above) – helping to retain staff.

We know the Commissioners are keen to see reablement become an option here – will they take the Danish example on board?