By Debbie le Quesne

Do the Danes have the solution to cut care costs?

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I know very little about the care models of Denmark – but I do understand it has one of the most socially progressive cultures of the world and that alone should be reason enough to check out what they’re doing.

Browsing the news last week while on holiday, I found that the country is undergoing a care revolution in a true Tomorrow’s World kind of way.

We are aware of technology monitoring care, but the Danes seem to be taking things a step further.

Copenhagen is a lovely city and it’s clean and perhaps I now know why.

Making their presence felt in its residential care homes is an army of robots that take some of the jobs of cleaners and carers.

There’s a robot that does all the cleaning – well, most of it. Fewer cleaners means more personnel available for residents.

I quote a piece in The Guardian online: “Over the last six years Denmark has cut the amount it spends on care for each person over 65 by nearly a fifth, according to figures from Statistics Denmark – an average cut of 10,851 Danish kroner (£1,200) per elderly person every year.

“The robots are a key part of the ‘welfare modernisation strategy’, Denmark announced last September. The aim is to use technology to cut 12bn kroner (£1.3bn) from the government’s welfare budget by 2020.”

This, I hope, is a refreshing change from the UK approach of compromising frontline services. I read some 84 per cent of managers in care settings employ one of these cleaning robot.

And it doesn’t stop there. For those who are mobile, there are drink machines with special adaptations to help those with shaky hands. I can’t imagine how that must work . . .

Finally, there’s a general change in emphasis in the delivery of care: More able-bodied and alert residents are encouraged to help those less able. Everyday rehabilitation is training focused – most, with the elderly. It’s not so much about what they can’t, but what they can do.

According to Jens Hoejgaard at DaneAge, government spending on practical help for the aged at their homes has been cut by a third since 2008, while personal care has been cut by only 12 per cent.

The policy is not without its critics, with some arguing it is the beginning of the end for the Danish universal welfare state. Hey, this has a familiar ring, doesn’t it?


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