Choice as governance in community mental health services
Sammanfattning: In 2009, the Act on Freedom of Choice Systems (SFS 2008:962) wasestablished in Sweden, and this enabled municipalities to organise services aschoice models. This thesis describes and analyses the implementation of afreedom of choice system within community mental health services. Daycentre services were in focus, and a case study was conducted of a majormunicipality that sought to be a “world-class city” in regard to citizens’ choice.The experiences of policy makers, managers, professionals, and participantswere explored in interviews, and documents on a national, municipal, and citydistrict level, as well as homepages of providers of community mental healthservices, were all part of the study and were analysed using content-analysismethods.The results showed that the freedom of choice system aimed for two objectives– improvements at the individual level and financial efficiency. In practice,financial efficiency was experienced as the main objective. Increased varietyof services was aimed for by the competitive model, but such variety was notobserved. Instead, services tended to be more similar than specialised.Concerning new providers, they were characterised as committedprofessionals running companies with strained economies. Participantsaffected by the reform expressed anxiety and worries due to theunpredictability and uncertainty embedded in the competitive choice model.Choice within the system concerned where to go, whereas participantsemphasised a wish to be able to influence the choice aspects of who carriedout the service and how much time to attend the services.The conclusion was that the freedom of choice system was implemented as atechnology of governance to increase financial efficiency of services.Individual choice was not experienced as increased in any aspect except forthe choice of where to go. Instead, freedom of choice actually appeared todecrease due to standardisation and hierarchical structures. Aspects that werefound to be relevant when designing freedom of choice systems aiming toincrease individual freedom of choice were to address predictability andcontinuity, to address sustainable financial premises, to analyse the predictedimpact of administrative systems that are to be used, and to avoid the use of“hidden goals” in the policy-making process.
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