The Scandinavian care services market is growing structurally and steadily. Laws and policies set the framework for our operations – and are driven over the long term by public opinion.
POLICY AND DEBATE: Freedom of choice is a key element of the Swedish welfare model and supported by the vastmajority of Swedes. A total of 86 per cent say it should be possible to choose where you live when you need elderly care, according to a survey conducted by the Association of
Private Care Providers. According to the January Agreement between the Swedish government (Social Democratic and Green parties) and the
Centre and Liberal parties in 2019, the government shall not seek ways to regulate profit-making by private welfare companies – quality aspects shall be governing. The debate has shifted focus in recent years from calls to ban profits to the social challenges posed by growing care needs and strained municipal economies. Shortcomings in elderly care have been debated during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but not with a focus on how the care is owned or operated.
MARKET: The Swedish care market* grew about 4 per cent annually from 2015–2019 and the growth rate is expected to remain unchanged in the coming years. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic led to a temporary decline in demand, primarily for elderly care. Despite a sustained underlying demand for elderly care, the recovery of occupancy rates in residential facilities is at risk of protraction. The share of private care in Sweden is around 20 per cent, with a longer share in elderly care and a higher share in individual and family care.
POLICY AND DEBATE: In Norway, freedom of choice in care is not as important as in Sweden. The political debate on profits in the tax-funded welfare sector is highly polarised. The centre-right government with three coalition parties considers the private alternative an important partner. As the number of older people gradually increases and oil revenues fall, the focus should be on the range of welfare services – not who provides the services, according to the Norwegian Minister of Local Government and Modernisation, Nikolai Astrup (Conservative Party). On the other hand, strong voices have been raised against profits in the tax-funded welfare sector and according to the opposition parties, a host of care services should re-municipalised. The discussion is largely centred around elderly care, while care for other groups does not have the same focus. Social welfare is expected to garner focus in the lead up to the Norwegian parliamentary election in autumn 2021. More voices are now being heard in the debate, which is creating a more nuanced view of the contribution that private welfare providers can make.
MARKET: The care market* in Norway rose 3–6 per cent annually during the 2015-2019 period. The privatisation rate for elderly care is about 10 per cent, and over 20 per cent for disability care and individual and family care.
POLICY AND DEBATE: In Denmark, there is general political unanimity that freedom of choice is a key element of the country’s welfare model. The public debate revolves around quality, care resources and how the growing needs for care can be solved. However, due to the lack of awareness about freedom of choice in elderly care, information campaigns are needed according to a report presented by the Danish Chamber
of Commerce, which also states that one in three Danes would choose a private nursing home if they had to make the choice today.
MARKET: The market for Ambea’s care services in Denmark rose approximately 2 per cent per year between 2015–2019, primarily in elderly care. At present, only a dozen or so nursing homes are privately run, while about 30 per cent of home care is provided by private operators. About 70 per cent of disability care and psychosocial support is provided by private operators.
* Ambea’s addressable market in elderly care, disability care and individual and family care.