The Dutch long-term care reform: Moral conflicts in executing the Social Support Act 2015

Wesley Jongen, Peter Schröder-Bäck, Jos MGA Schols


On 1 January 2015, a new long-term care reform entered into force in the Netherlands, entailing amongst others a decentralization of long-term care responsibilities from the national government to the municipalities by means of a new law: the Social Support Act 2015. Given the often disputed nature of the reform, being characterized on the one hand by severe budget cuts and on the other hand by a normative reorientation towards a participation society, this article examines to what extent municipalities in the Netherlands take (potential) moral conflicts into account in their execution of the Social Support Act 2015. In doing so, the article applies a ‘coherentist’ approach (consisting of both rights-based and consequentialist strands of ethical reasoning), thereby putting six ethical principles at the core (non-maleficence & beneficence, social beneficence, respect for autonomy, social justice, efficiency and proportionality). It is argued that while municipalities are indeed aware of (potential) moral conflicts, the nature of the new law itself leaves insufficient room for municipalities to act in a sufficiently proactive and supportive/empowering manner on these challenges.





ethical reasoning, long-term care reform, moral conflicts, The Netherlands.

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DOI: 10.4119/UNIBI/SEEJPH-2017-152

Copyright (c) 2017 Wesley Jongen, Peter Schröder-Bäck, Jos MGA Schols

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