The Dutch more positive to Social Support Act, study finds

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - Published by Ragni Leifson
A large majority reported positive experiences with the Act, intended to enable people to live at home as long as possible.

Dutch Government policy focuses on enabling people to live independently in their own home for as long as possible. The Social Support Act contributes to this, but the people’s own social network also plays an important role. A person who needs support can contact the local authorities, who will then first examine what support the person’s own social network can offer.

Experiences with the Social Support Act (Wet maatschappelijke ondersteuning, Wmo) were more positive in 2016 compared to a year before. This is shown by an in-depth study on the findings of the Social Support Act 2016 client experience survey in the municipalities Groningen and Drenthe, where Sociaal Planbureau Groningen and Trendbureau Drenthe (regional social research bureaus) conducted the research.

In 2016, 84% of the clients in Groningen and Drenthe received help from a partner, family, friends, or neighbours. When the question was asked if family or friends could cope well with caring, just under 60% indicated that this was the case, while over 40 % of the clients were uncertain whether family or friends could cope with caring or not. For many informal carers the combination of work and care is difficult, for example, because care tasks and work hours overlap each other.

Independent client support has become more widely known

In 2015, only 22% of the clients were informed about the option of getting an independent client supporter. In 2016, this percentage significantly increased to 27%. However, a large majority of the clients were not informed about independent client support despite all the efforts of municipalities to raise awareness among citizens..

It remains uncertain whether the relative unfamiliarity with independent client support is perceived as a problem. It appears that clients who had the support of an independent client supporter did not have more positive experiences per definition than those who were supported by family or friends, or care providers during the conversation.

Good progress

“In general, the conclusion is that the implementation of the Social Support Act is progressing well”, according to Maud Diemer at CMO STAMM.

“Given that a large majority of the clients had positive experiences in 2016 compared to 2015, that is good news”, she adds.

Janine Dijkema at CMO STAMM: “Nevertheless, the client experience survey 2016 shows that there are still key considerations. The client experience survey also offers a number of points of departure for better implementation of the Social Support Act”.

Maud Diemer (left) and Janine Dijkema at CMO STAMM.
Maud Diemer (left) and Janine Dijkema at CMO STAMM).

The Sociaal Planbureau Groningen (CMO STAMM) carried out the client experience survey in 2017, in the province of Groningen at 17 municipalities and 7 municipalities in Drenthe. A total of more than 7.000 Social Support clients participated in the survey.