Bengt Westerberg recruited me to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs to be in charge of devising a new disability law.
May 6, 1993, is a memorable day in Swedish social policy. On that day, the Swedish Parliament voted in a social reform that was unlike anything elsewhere in the world.
The right to personal assistance is a fundament crucial breakthrough in Swedish disability legislation. In concerns independence, integrity and freedom of choice. Personal assistance means access to a human aide to be the hands, feet, eyes, ears or understanding for tasks that the person with the disability is unable to do. Actually, it is fairly obvious that each person shall be able to decide for themselves who will help them with toileting, dressing and undressing, listen and interpret conversations either on the phone or face-to-face with others. But, it has not always been so obvious. Personal assistance gives persons with disabilities control over their lives. An excellent example of a social policy that creates freedom through clear and explicit rights.
Criticism was aimed, especially from the Association of Local Authorities and Regions (now SALAR), that LSS became a rights law that gives the individual the right to appeal decisions and have them proven in court.
The other actions in the LSS are essentially the same as those that can be obtained under the Social Services Act, but in LSS, they are expressed as rights. I am completely convinced that without these rights laws, the situation for persons with severe disabilities would have been significantly poorer today.
Children’s right to personal assistance was a major issue, one where I had a deciding influence on its coming into being.
The assistance reform has been a major success. It has made it possible for the approximately 16,000 persons with severe disabilities to live in their own home and be participatory in society through work and a richer leisure time. It has given many families of children with profound disabilities, a better life. Young people’s dependency on their parents has been lessened.
The creation of jobs was not the objective of the law, but today, there are 80,000 who work in assistance.
Being part of the formulation of LSS is the most meaningful thing I have ever been part of.