4.6 Access to quality services
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Denmark has general welfare provisions for all people with legal residence in Denmark. The welfare provisions include a broad range of policy areas, such as health, employment, social services, etc. Some of the services and benefits are universal, while others target people with special needs. Most welfare services are a municipal responsibility.
Furthermore, the Act on Social Services (Lov om social service, LBK nr 1287 af 28/08/2020) obliges municipalities to offer a large variety of services, support, and benefits to people with special needs.
Housing for adult persons above the age of 18
- Municipalities must offer housing for payment if a single person or a family is homeless.
- Municipalities must offer long-term housing to persons with substantial and permanent impairment of physical or mental function who need extensive assistance for general day-to-day functions or care, attendance or treatment, where such needs cannot be addressed in any other way.
- The municipalities have the opportunity to offer the above-mentioned long-term housing to people under the age of 35 in order to support their ability to live a youth life.
- Municipalities may offer temporary housing to persons with substantial and permanent impairment of physical or mental function
Housing for young people at risk of social exclusion in Denmark
Housing first/Housing first for youth
Housing First is an approach that municipalities may offer people in homelessness and people at risk of homelessness.
Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) is a rights-based intervention that municipalities can offer young people. The goal is to help prevent homelessness or help youth to quickly exit homelessness. HF4Y is designed to address the needs of developing adolescents and young adults by providing them with immediate access to housing that is safe, affordable and appropriate, as well as the necessary and age-appropriate support that focuses on health, well-being, life skills, engagement in education and employment, and social inclusion.
The target group is young people who experience homelessness or who are at risk.
Transition residence (overgangsbolig) for young people in Denmark
Municipalities can offer young people a temporary, transition residence instead of care home/sheltered residence (botilbud) according to § 110 in the Act on Social Services (Lov om social service, LBK nr 1287 af 28/08/2020). The residence is offered as a transition to ordinary housing and the young person has committed to participate in counselling and support measures.
Crisis centres for women in Denmark
According to the Act on Social Services, municipalities must provide housing for female victims of domestic violence.
According to the Act on Social Services, municipalities must offer temporary sheltered residence (§110 boformer) for people with special needs. The target group for this type of residence is marginalised people with special needs, for instance homeless people or people with drug abuse, above the age of 24 years. Housing is also offered to male victims of domestic violence.
The organisation RED Centre Against Honour-Related Conflicts manages two safehouses for ethnic minority youths under threat due to honour-related conflicts.
Furthermore, a range of private associations provide shelters for homeless people.
Programmes for more affordable housing in Denmark
Social Housing (almen bolig):
In Denmark, approximately 20% of the total housing stock is social housing. The aim of the social housing sector is legally defined as providing affordable and decent housing for all in need of it and to give tenants a legal and decisive right to influence their own living conditions. There are three categories of housing: social housing for families, social housing for young people, and social housing for elderly people. The social housing sector has a special obligation towards population groups with particular housing needs. For example, young students, elderly people, disabled people, single parents, refugees, and residents in need of rehousing because of urban renewal.
The primary purpose of the National Building Fund – a private foundation established by law – is the financing of construction and renovation of public social housing. All social housing units pay a mandatory contribution to the fund. Housing organisations can apply for financial support from the fund for the construction of new social housing or the renovation of existing homes.
During the last 60 years, the government has subsidised the construction of social housing for young people, because they often need interim housing after leaving home and before establishing a more long-term adult home. The target group for youth housing is young people in education and young people with special needs, e.g. arising from social problems. The total stock of youth housing consists of approximately 76,000 dwellings, where 37,000 are social housing for young people and students.
The total stock of social youth housing consists of approximately 76,000 dwellings.
In Denmark, the Act on Social Housing (Lov om almene boliger, LBK nr 1877 af 27/09/2021) regulates the social housing sector, and private social housing organisations build and manage social housing. All citizens can apply for a position on waiting lists used by the housing associations when assigning tenants to apartments. Aside from waiting lists, the local authorities have a municipal allotment right for a certain percentage of the vacant apartments in social housing.
The social housing organisations must consider the young applicant’s economic, educational and social condition when allocating dwellings.
Start housing for socially marginalised young people (Startbolig til udsatte unge)
Start housing is social housing aimed at socially marginalised young people in the 18–24-year age group. A social caretaker is affiliated to the start housing homes. The purpose of the caretaker is to provide practical support with everyday activities to the young people. Furthermore, the caretaker supports the young people complete education or hold on to employment.
Student housing for young people in Denmark
Several housing associations (boligselskab) provide housing for students throughout the country, for instance youth housing and dormitories (kollegium). The rent of the housing is affordable, and the housing is reserved for students while they are enrolled at an education institution.
Housing associations are obliged to monitor whether the tenants in student housing actively participate in studies.
Some municipalities with many students provide a roof-over-your-head guarantee to newly arrived students who have not found permanent housing. The guarantee applies for three months. The type of housing used to meet the guarantee are hostels and dormitories (sovesal).
In November 2019, the minister for social affairs and the interior presented the political agreement on the implementation of the reserve for measures within the social, health, and employment sector 2020–2023. A majority in parliament agreed to allocate funds to youth crisis centres. The crisis centres offer counselling to young people and temporary housing of a maximum of seven days.
The Act on Social Services (Lov om social service, LBK nr 1548 af 01/07/2021) obliges municipalities to provide the following (list not complete):
- Regular contact persons for young people above the age of 18 who have been placed in out-of-home care
- A lay representative for children and young people below the age of 18
- Personal assistance
- Technical aids (hjælpemidler): The municipal council (kommunalbestyrelse) shall grant support for technical aids to persons with permanent impairment of physical or mental function
- Layout and interior design: The municipal council (kommunalbestyrelse) shall provide assistance for the layout and design of the homes of persons with permanently impaired physical or mental function where such layout or design is required to make the home better suited to accommodate the resident
- Other consumer durables
- Transportation support, for instance interest free loans for the purchase of cars to persons with permanent impairment of physical or mental function
- Persons with permanent impairment of physical or mental function
- Young people that have been placed in out-of-home care
- Children and young people with special needs
The following initiatives are also of relevance:
Nota provides access to books for people with reading disabilities. Nota offers more than 40,000 books, such as audio books, books in Braille, and e-books. Furthermore, Nota can produce study books in specific formats for people with a reading disability or visually impaired people enrolled at a higher education institution.
The Student Counselling Service (Studenterrrådgivningen) is a counselling service at higher education institutions. The objective of the service is to provide social, psychological, and psychiatric counselling and treatment to students at bachelor, professional bachelor, and master’s level so that they can complete their studies without unnecessary extension and without unnecessary drop-outs. The staff at the counselling service units consists of psychologists, social workers with psychotherapeutic training, and psychiatric specialist physicians. All staff have a duty of confidentiality, and students can contact the counselling service anonymously. The counselling service is an institution under the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science.
For social services in the education system dedicated to removing obstacles to the participation of young people in education and training, see section 6.6.
SSP is a municipal co-operation between schools, social services and police. Over the years other public and private actors have joined the co-operation, for instance voluntary organisations, youth clubs, and youth guidance centres. The aim of SSP is to prevent juvenile crime concerning children between the ages 10 and 18 and to reduce the number of 18-25 year olds who commit serious crimes.
Placement of children and youth outside of the home in Denmark
According to the Act on Social Services (Lov om social service, LBK nr 170 af 24/01/2022), the municipal council must decide on measures deemed to be essential to a child’s or young person’s special need for support.
In special circumstances, it may be relevant for the municipality to consider removing the child from the home to ensure the health and development of the child. Placement of a child in care can only be considered by the responsible municipality if a number of conditions are met. Placement of a child outside the home is the most far-reaching type of support, but it can be considered if the municipality assesses that this is necessary to meet the needs of the child. The municipality will try to make the arrangement with the support and consent of the parents who have custody of the child.
If the parents in custody of the child or the child of 12 years or older do not support a decision to place the child in care, the Children and Young Persons Committee (Børn og unge-udvalget) in the municipality can decide to place the child in care without the consent of the parents in accordance with section 58 of the Act on Social Services.
The Children and Young Persons Committee in the municipality can only make this decision if there is an obvious risk that the health or development of the child or young person under the age of 18 years will suffer major harm, for instance due to inadequate care or treatment of the child or young person or due to other behavioural or adaptation problems the child or young person has.
For young people in the 18-22-year age group, the municipalities may offer continuation of residence when the young person has been placed (anbragt) outside the home. The residence can be prolonged until the young person turns 23.
In Denmark, part of the healthcare system is free. General practitioners, treatment at hospitals, and visits to the accident and emergency department are free. Furthermore, in Denmark, children below the age of 18 are entitled to free dental treatment and a free childhood vaccination programme, including HPV vaccine for boys and girls.
Furthermore, persons with a referral from the general practitioner may be entitled to a public supplement to treatments, for instance at a physiotherapist, chiropractor, dentist, podiatrist, psychologist.
According to the Executive Order on Interpreting Assistance in Accordance with the Danish Health Act (bekendtgørelse om tolkebistand efter sundhedsloven, BEK nr 855 23/06/2018), citizens coming to Denmark have the right to interpretation in the Danish healthcare system free of charge for the first 3 years after their arrival.
A fee for interpreting assistance is charged from everyone who has lived in Denmark for 3 years or more, unless they are covered by a set of specified exemptions.
Exempted from the scheme are patients who have temporarily or permanently lost the ability to acquire and maintain the required Danish skills because of reduced physical or mental function. In addition, children under the age of 18, parents who accompany their children for treatment and interpretation in the Greenlandic or Faroese languages are not subject to the scheme.
The Act on Social Services (Lov om social service, LBK nr 1548 af 01/07/2021) entitles children below the age of 18 to psychological treatment when their mothers have been victims of domestic violence and take shelter at a women’s crisis centre. Furthermore, the women taking shelter at a women’s crisis centre are offered 10 hours of free psychological treatment, regardless of the length of the stay. The obligation to provide psychological treatment must be effectuated during the stay or in continuation of it. In addition, public subsidies for psychological treatment are provided for a wide range of incidents, for instance depression, sexual abuse, incest, abortion, death in the near family (list not complete).
According to the Act on Active Social Policy (Lov om aktiv socialpolitik, LBK nr 981 af 23/09/2019), the municipality may offer financial support to medical treatment, medicine, dental treatment that cannot be covered by any other legislation. The act covers, for instance:
- Dental expenses above DKK 600 for persons in the 18-24-year age group
- Dental expenses above DKK 600 for persons in the 25-29-year age group receiving education benefit (uddannelseshjælp) or integration benefit (integrationsydelse)
The Act on Social Services obliges municipalities to offer treatment to people with problematic alcohol or drug use. This treatment must be effectuated within 14 days after contacting the municipality. Furthermore, the municipalities must offer anonymous treatment to people with a problematic alcohol or drug use who have no other social problems related to The Act on Social Services.
Since 2016, young trans persons can be offered transgender hormone therapy if they are in Tanner stage 2 or more. According to the Ministerial Instruction on Health Professional Support in Relation to Gender Identity Issues (vejledning om sundhedsfaglige hjælp ved kønsidentitetsforhold, Vej nr 9060 af 16/08/2018), the treatment consists of several conversations with medical specialists, paediatricians, and psychologists, and diagnosing through tests, surveys, and examinations. After the diagnostic course, the young person can be offered hormones that stop the young person entering puberty (suppressive hormone therapy). The young person can begin the second stage of treatment, which introduces cross-sex hormones when the effect of suppressive hormone therapy has been assessed and a thorough professional and individual assessment has been performed. Cross-sex hormones begin the transition from one sex to another.
Furthermore, the young person can be entitled to speech-language pathological education in order to modify their voice and speech.
The Act on Special Pedagogical Support (Lov om specialpædagogisk støtte ved videregående uddannelser, LBK nr 748 af 16/05/2015) entitles young people with physical or mental disability enrolled in FGU, upper secondary education programmes, or higher education programmes to special support. The objective of the special support is to help the target group to complete their education similarly to students who do not experience such impairments. For more information, see section 6.6.
According to the Act on Health Care (sundhedsloven), the municipalities are responsible for ensuring children and young people's health and well-being. The municipal responsibility is managed through the following free measures:
- Health visitor/school nurse in primary and lower secondary education.
- Free dental care for children and young people under 18 years of age. From 2022 to 2025, the age limit will increase to include all young people below the age of 22, according to a new political agreement. Rehabilitation following hospitalisation.
- Treatment of alcohol abuse
- Treatment of substance abuse
- Some municipalities and clinics offer free dental care to homeless people.
Several financial services exist.
Financial support (boligstøtte) for the rent in rented housing that has a separate kitchen. Depending on a person’s income and breadwinner responsibility, he or she may be entitled to a public rent benefit.
The state educational grant (SU): Every Dane over the age of 18 is entitled to public support for his or her further education – regardless of social standing. In particular situations, mainly sickness or childbirth, students can apply for extra monthly grants. New mothers are eligible for 12 and new fathers for 6 extra monthly grants. Students who are single breadwinners or who are living with another student are entitled to a breadwinner supplement. Young people with physical or mental disability who are unable to manage a student job are entitled to a supplement to the state educational grant. See section 6.6 for more information on the grant.
In case of unemployment, help and assistance is available from the municipal job centres and municipal youth measures.
As a member of an unemployment insurance fund, a young unemployed person will under certain conditions receive unemployment benefits. Without unemployment insurance, a young person may be entitled to cash benefit, education benefit, or integration benefit. See section 3.6 for more information on financial support during unemployment.
Besides these general financial services, a range of financial services target marginalised people and people with special needs.
The Act on Active Social Policy (Lov om aktiv socialpolitik, LBK nr 981 af 23/09/2019): The purpose of the act is to prevent people who are situated on the edge of the labour market and have difficulties holding on to a job from needing public financial support.
At the same time, the act secures a financial safety net for people with no other means of supporting themselves. The purpose of providing financial support is to make the recipient capable of supporting him- or herself.
People in need may be entitled to cash benefit, education benefit or integration benefit.
Furthermore, people in need may be entitled to financial support in extraordinary situations:
- One-off expenses: A person in need may be entitled to a tax-free lump sum, for instance in the event of the death of a spouse. A person is only entitled to help when the need for help could not be foreseen.
- Financial support to cover rent, for instance in case of eviction.
- Travel expenses when a parent does not live with the child and cannot afford to visit the child.
The Act on Social Services (Lov om social service, LBK nr 1287 af 28/08/2020) provides a range of financial services (list not complete):
- Coverage of lost earnings for parents who care for disabled children in the home
- Coverage of additional expenditure for the support of a disabled child
- Coverage of necessary additional expenditure for persons above the age of 18 with permanent disabilities
Breadwinner allowances in Denmark
According to the Act on Children and Youth Allowance (Lov om børne- og ungeydelse, LBK nr 609 af 03/06/2016), parents with children under 18 years are entitled to a tax-free children and youth allowance (børne og ungeydelse). The allowance amount depends on the age of the child and the level of the parent’s income.
Families with children under the age of 18 may be entitled to a child benefit (børnetilskud). Several forms of child benefit exist, for instance for single breadwinners or for parents enrolled in education. The benefits are tax-free.
According to the Act on Children’s Allowance (Lov om børnetilskud og forskudsvis udbetaling af børnebidrag, LBK nr 63 af 21/01/2019), when parents to a child are divorced or do not live together, the parent living with the child is entitled to financial support (børnebidrag) from the other parent. The benefit amount depends on the income of the parents.
According to the Act on Children’s Maintenance (Lov om børns forsørgelse, LBK nr 773 af 07/08/2019), the parent living with the child may also be entitled to support in connection with child birth, baptism/naming of the child, and confirmation.
Public subsidies for medicine in Denmark
There are different types of subsidies for medicine. Some are general and others depend on a person’s social situation and income. Furthermore, pharmacies can divide the cost of medicine into 12 instalments which makes it more manageable for people on low incomes.
All public administration according to the Act on Healthcare (sundhedsloven, LBK nr 903 af 26/08/2019), the Act on Active Social Policy (Lov om aktiv socialpolitik, LBK nr 981 af 23/09/2019) and the Act on Social Services (Lov om social service, LBK nr 1287 af 28/08/2020) is supervised.
According to the Act on Social Services, the municipalities must supervise their social offers regarding the management and economy of the offers and regarding the effects of the measures initiated.
If a person, despite knowledge to the contrary, receives benefits or services according to the Act on Social Services, the municipality can claim a refund.
The National Board of Social Services works to obtain the best knowledge available of effective methods and practice within the field of social work, as well as communicating and distributing this knowledge to ensure its use in practice. This is done through the comprehensive counselling of municipalities, the Danish Regions, and individual citizens on questions related to social work and by supporting the municipalities when implementing social methods and practices.
Furthermore, the National Board of Social Services is responsible for the National Audit Unit. The board monitor and evaluate the practices of the five municipal social supervisory authorities. The board is also responsible for supplying professional support to the five municipal social supervisory authorities, which are responsible for approving and conducting the supervision of the operational social facilities across Denmark.
The National Board of Social Services publishes an annual report on the activities of the municipal social supervision authorities.
Furthermore, the board manages the coordination of specialised social services, which ensures a sufficient range of social facilities and dissemination of information for citizens who have very rare functional impairments, particularly complex social problems or other complex needs.
This is done by:
- Monitoring developments in target populations, social facilities and interventions at the highly specialised area and the highly specialised educational area through regular and close dialogue and collaboration with the municipalities as well as user and interest groups
- Ensuring the sufficient range of social facilities by identifying and announcing where there is a need for increased coordination or planning across municipalities and regions
- Collecting knowledge and developing instructive professional procedure descriptions for different target groups with the most special needs
The Social Appeals Board is entitled to initiate investigations when there is reasonable suspicion that a municipality has not considered all necessary contingencies. The Social Appeals Board can obligate the municipality to take the necessary initiatives in the interest of the child or young person. Furthermore, the municipalities must report on measures and initiatives offered.
According to the Act on Healthcare (Sundhedsloven, LBK nr 903 af 26/08/2019), the minister of health, the municipalities, and the regions establish a set of common targets for the quality development of the Danish healthcare system.
The Danish Patient Safety Authority performs a number of tasks that are part of the vision to strengthen patient safety. These tasks include, for instance:
- supervise authorised health professionals and health organisations.
- issue registrations in 17 different healthcare professions to both Danish and foreign healthcare professionals.
- issue permissions to practice independently as a medical doctor, dentist, or chiropractor.
- issue specialist registrations in the 38 medical specialities and specialist registrations in the two dental specialties.
- handle the central administration of the reporting system for adverse events in the health service and contribute to using knowledge about adverse events and knowledge from patient and compensation cases in a preventive way.
The Danish Health Authority works to ensure quality in the healthcare system. The authority develops clinical guidelines based on evidence and best-practice. The objective of the clinical guidelines is to support a coherent and similar treatment in municipalities, regions, and clinics across the country. Furthermore, the authority can initiate evaluations of activities in the healthcare system. The evaluations can include all aspects regarding the healthcare systems, and healthcare actors are obliged to provide information to these analyses.
According to the Act on Active Social Policy (Lov om aktiv socialpolitik, LBK nr 981 af 23/09/2019), the municipalities must collect information on citizens receiving help based on the act. If a citizen despite knowledge to the contrary receives help, the municipality can claim a refund.