Coexisting principles and logics of elder care: Help to self-help and consumer-oriented service?

Hanne Marlene Dahl, Leena Eskelinen, Eigil Boll Hansen

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Healthy and active ageing has become an ideal in Western societies. In the Nordic countries, this ideal has been supported through a policy of help to self-help in elder care since the 1980s. However, reforms inspired by New Public Management (NPM) have introduced a new policy principle of consumer-oriented service that stresses the wishes and priorities of older people. We have studied how these two principles are applied by care workers in Denmark. Is one principle or logic replacing the other, or do they coexist? Do they create tensions between professional knowledge and the autonomy of older people? Using neo-institutional theory and feminist care theory, we analysed the articulation of the two policy principles in interviews and their logics in observations in four local authorities. We conclude that help to self-help is the dominant principle, that it is deeply entrenched in the identity of the professional care worker and that it coexists with consumer-oriented service and without major tensions in the logics identified in their practices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Social Welfare
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)287-295
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2015


  • home help
  • self-determination
  • consumer-oriented service
  • re-ablement
  • elderly care

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