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By Debbie le Quesne

A model in Dutch caring: This scares me

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Now I’ve seen it all . . . The elderly, chronically sick or disabled people will be asked to carry out voluntary work in their community in return for social care, under new Dutch government proposals.

The Netherlands legislation is part of a radical shake-up, says the internet posts.

I have to ask: are these same proposals where there is a demand for something in return for benefits, the ones that have inspired Mr Cameron?

The plans, drafted by Martin van Rijn, a Dutch health minister, would mean that recipients of social care would be “urgently requested” to carry out voluntary work to do something for society in payment for the benefits they receive. I have to say, developments like this scare me, underpinning what we already know that the financial crisis on care is a global one.

“Loneliness could perhaps be overcome if the elderly helped pre-school children with language impairments improve their reading,” his draft legislation, outlined to a Dutch newspaper suggests.

Unlike the Dutch unemployed, who can be obliged to do community service, the elderly, disabled or chronically sick cannot be forced to volunteer but local councils, who provide care, will be entitled to ask in an “intrusive manner” to work, the proposals add.

Indeed, there are some good creative care models in Europe from which we can learn, but I’m struggling to endorse this one.

The new Dutch King Willem-Alexander, hailed the development as a new “participation society in social security and long-term care.”

I don’t doubt that many elderly who receive benefits would be quite happy to contribute more to society, but there will be plenty, who indeed would love to, but cannot.

It seems there is an international move afoot to penalise people for just getting older. I always thought the Dutch government was culturally liberal and enlightened. Perhaps I was wrong.

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