Options available for receiving special assistance at home in the form of a support person and how to navigate the application process.
Text: Sara R. Newell / Nikolaos Papadopoulos
People with special needs will often need assistance and support either continuously or periodically during their lives. For example, frequent hospital visits, sessions with doctors and medical practitioners, and medical emergencies. All of this can take its toll on the individual but also family members that support them. Consequently, family members also need assistance and support to continue to care for their loved ones.
When a child or young adult under 18 needs special assistance at home, getting assistance and support from a person outside the home can benefit both child and family. A support person (støttekontaktperson) can be in the form of physical help (with motion impairment) or mental/emotional support (a confidante who they can talk to about personal issues). Assistance can also be provided to the family in regards to guidance or respite (aflastning).
You can start the application procedure by contacting your local municipality and requesting a meeting with your child’s case worker (sagsbehandler). Sometimes it can take a certain amount of persistence to contact a case worker to request a meeting. Before the meeting, it can be a good idea to write down your child’s and family’s specific needs and why you require assistance from a support person. It can also be a good idea to talk to your child’s doctor, psychologist or another relevant specialist about your child’s needs. The case worker will ask for your consent to collect information from your child’s doctor or other healthcare specialists during the meeting.
It is important to note that when you are with the case worker, you are clear and specific about your child’s individual needs so that the case worker can get a good overview of your family’s situation. If you decide to apply for a support person for your child, you do so in writing and ideally have accompanying support documents from relevant medical professionals.
When processing your application, it is not unlikely that the case worker will request to speak to your child to assess your child’s particular needs and wishes (in the case of a non-verbal child, this doesn’t apply). Your child has the right to have someone present during any interview with a case worker. If the municipality approves your application for a support person, it will likely take some time to find a support person who matches your child’s needs. In certain situations, it is possible to hire a support person the child already knows, such as a teacher or pedagog from your child’s school or a support person from a private support service company.
While the term “support person” refers to support given to individuals of a younger age, a similar service that caters to the needs of adult individuals exists as well and is known as bostøtte. The application process for bostøtte follows the same general guidelines as that for a support person. In the case of individuals over the age of 15, consent from the child must be obtained (if able) to initiate the application process.
"While the term “support person” refers to support given to individuals of a younger age, a similar service that caters to the needs of adult individuals exists as well and is known as bostøtte."
Delays, denial and appeals
While the two services can be invaluable for people with individual needs, the application process can be frustrating, and it is not uncommon for an application to be automatically denied or otherwise delayed by the municipality. Moreover, municipalities can decline an application even if due process is followed to the letter.
You have the right to appeal if your application is denied. It can be a good idea to contact DUKH, an organisation devoted to advising people with disabilities on their legal rights and advising on the assistance services applications process.
As a last resort, hiring a private social worker can sometimes be helpful to assist with the official application process. If you are considering hiring a private social worker, or should you decide to hire a private support person for your child or yourself, it can be a good idea to contact relevant network groups for recommendations.
Be sure to read this article about how to apply for disability assistance and support: https://www.the-intl.com/post/applying-for-disability-assistance-and-support