Good Practice: Creating a Good Life for People with Dual Diagnoses

Creating a Good Life for People with Dual Diagnoses: Aase Marie

Organisation    Marie Holmes
Country Denmark
Short description Aase Marie is a housing programme for 24 people with dual diagnoses who live in their own houses. The programme aims at creating ‘a good life’ for people with dual diagnoses (drug abuse and mental illness)by strengthening their social competencies.
Co-productive activities The main activity at Aase Marie involves developing inter-personal skills through the use of appreciative relations. Every resident of Aase Marie has a regular contact person who, through daily conversations, support and helps residents organising their everyday life and activities. The resident actively gets to approve or decline every activity that is suggested to her/him – and in this way she/he gets to take responsibility for her/his own life.

The municipality, who pays for most of the resident’s expenses, also sets goals for the development of the resident (e.g. use of money, own shopping or cleaning). Every resident knows each goal in her/his 'what-to-do' plan, but the goals are normally defined by the employees. All goals (both short- and long-term) are monitored in the local, digital 'Indikator' programme.

Each goal is defined in the resident’s ‘what-to-do-plan’, which must be approved by the resident first. The contact person supports the resident on a daily basis, working towards the goals and with a long-term perspective. 

Aase Marie has used considerable time to precisely define and describe both its essential values (Respect, Professionalism, Well-being) and fundamental cultural characteristics (e.g. trust, recovery, appreciative relations, openness, equality, inclusion). Aase Marie has also produced a well-documented method description. These tools are discussed at every team meeting plus at meetings with the residents (both individually and in common meetings). Both staff and service users consistently discuss questions like: ‘Which activities make sense for the individual resident in creating a good life?’ and ‘What is acceptable behaviour in our local environment?’
Underlying theories Every resident is very aware the possibility of declining every suggestion from the staff. The resident is the main actor in the creation of her/ his ‘good life’ path. The staff respects the resident's decisions as long as it remains constructive and consistent, having well-being and respect of the resident as their top priority.
Direct impact  In general, residents now consider leading a ‘good life’. They feel recognised and accepted as equal individuals (for some of them for the first time in their life). There is less violence in the residents’ everyday life and there are fewer work-related injuries and very low percentage of sick leaves among the staff.
Conclusions and results One of the main challenges involves the residents' own motivation and lack of perspective: the residents may not have the personal energy and strength to take full advantage of the co-productive approach. Sometimes, they cannot see the advantage of improving their own life (they can sometimes prefer purchasing drugs instead of buying clothes or paying rent).
Both municipal and state demands and controls are often challenging for the individual resident, putting too much pressure on her/him.

Also, the community where Aase Marie is situated has been very skeptic and mistrustful towards the residents from the very start. This situation is gradually and very slowly improving, but there is still a long way to go. Most residents are banned from some of the local shops because the shop keepers are afraid that they steal.

Despite the many challenges that Aase Marie and its residents face every day, the programme is actually rather successful.

The staff is very committed to the programme – and they have the personal and professional capacity, courage and energy to make it work. The staff reflects the diversity in society at large (which is a positive feature) – and there is constant focus on the professional development of the staff as well.
and Milestones
Aase Marie opened in April 2012 – and we expect it to be in place for many years to come.
Contact/More information  Director of Aase Marie - Sussi Sandager:

More information at:
-        Method description for Aase Marie in English:
-        Website in Danish: