Having an independent life is important for most people, but not something everyone can take for granted. Andrea Galåsen can live the life she wants thanks to three personal assistants - and some assistance from DNB.

Text: Sissel Fantoft Photo: Thomas Haugersveen

Andrea Galåsen lives at Romsås in Oslo. She is living an active life as the mother of seven-year-old Arne. But there is one thing that sets her apart from most other people: Andrea Galåsen is blind. However, thanks to the government scheme of user-controlled personal assistance, she receives good help, on a daily basis, to live the life she wants to live. A life with independence and dignity.

“Suddenly, the weather can be so nice that Arne and I would like to go for a walk. I can then consider whether we should go alone or whether to call an assistant. If we have walked in the nearby wood, lit an open fire and grilled hot dogs alone, it is rather tiring. Sometimes it is a good idea to call an assistant,” says Galåsen.

Day Fonbæk is her regular assistant, and in addition, she has two on-call assistants who she can call if necessary. It is Galåsen herself who decides how to use the assistants’ time.

“The whole scheme is based on self-respect and dignity. This means that I can build Lego with my son or see which birds are on the bird table because my assistant whispers their names to me,” explains Galåsen, adding: “Basically, this gives me two eyes and more energy so that I can do everything I would have done if I could see.”

My assistants do not do things for me, but they make it possible for me to do them myself.

Andrea Galåsen, user of the BPA scheme
Strong relationships

Galåsen’s three personal assistants are supplied through Human Care, the healthcare firm owned by the Swedish company Humana. This is where DNB enters the story. When Humana was listed on Oslo Børs (the Norwegian stock exchange) in 2016, it was DNB that assisted in the process before and after the initial public offering (IPO). The cooperation with DNB means that Humana can now offer even more users assistance through its healthcare firms.

“There are two main cornerstones in this story: DNB’s commitment to the healthcare sector goes beyond being a bank that solely lends money. This was the starting point for our cooperation with Humana. From then on, the relationship developed as we helped Humana with their IPO and made it possible for the company to grow further,” says Peter Behncke, head of Investment Banking in DNB.

The healthcare sector has been a focus area in the Group since 2007. This industry will continue to grow, both nationally and globally, mainly as a result of the wave of older people that is hitting the western world with full force now and in the years to come. As a result of this, the need for private healthcare services will increase – and DNB has a stated goal and a desire to help more private healthcare businesses become commercially viable.

“The healthcare sector has the potential to build up a key position in Norway and become a major industry. As a bank, we can support and assist companies that are in a growth phase. For all new companies, the start-up phase is particularly demanding, and they need access to venture capital and advisory services. This is where we come in,” Behncke points out and continues:

“DNB has extensive expertise across its organisation and it is important that we capitalise on this. We are not just a lender, but have industry competence, capital market expertise and in-depth knowledge of individual companies, such as Humana.”


Important support

Services that DNB offers to healthcare companies beyond access to capital and advisory services during a start-up phase, include marketing, networking, regional and global cash management services, deposits, guarantees and trade finance services.

DNB has been an important partner for us, both as a lender and in connection with, for example, the initial public offering.

Ulf Bonnevier, chief financial officer of Humana

When DNB and Humana initiated a dialogue in 2014, it was to get Humana listed on the stock exchange.

“We contacted various investors and managed to generate so much interest for the company that it was launched on the stock exchange with a good price per share. In actual fact, the interest surrounding the public offering resulted in oversubscription, and the share price rose by nearly 20 per cent on its first day of trading,” says Behncke.

Mother: Andrea is Arne’s mother, and it is considerably easier when she has an assistant on the sidelines who can contribute when needed.

“Humana has grown rapidly since its start in 2001 because it offers good service and more independence for its customers,” says Ulf Bonnevier, chief financial officer of Humana. He emphasises the good cooperation with DNB:

“DNB has been an important partner for us, both as a lender and in connection with, for example, the initial public offering. It is very beneficial for us that DNB has its finger on the pulse in Norway.”

Pathway to independence

Jon Torp is head of user-controlled personal assistance (called BPA in Norway) in the Norwegian Human Care. BPA has been a statutory right in Norway since 2015.

“The core of Humana’s work can be summed up in the slogan “Everyone has the right to a good life. Yes, everyone”.  This is about people who have assistants to live the life they want to live,” says Torp.

Regular assistant: Dag Fonbæk is Andrea’s regular assistant, and she decides how his time should be spent. According to Andrea, respect and dignity are important to the success of the BPA scheme.

The essence of Humana’s/Human Care’s work is that the customers are the assistants’ supervisors.

“If you are going to live a life with assistants, it is essential that you can decide yourself who they should be, when they are going to come, what they will do and how. It is about turning traditional thinking on its head. Being a supervisor is a bit like managing a small company. It is the responsibility of the supervisors to ensure that the assistants are satisfied so that they are happy in their jobs and want to stay on,” says Torp.

Facts. Humana

  • Nordic idea-driven private care company, established in Sweden in 2001, publicly listed in 2016.
  • Offers a variety of health and care services, such as user-controlled personal assistance, care of the elderly, child welfare and other health and care services.
  • 9 000 clients and 16 000 employees in Sweden, Norway and Finland.
  • From 2014 to 2015, Humana increased its income by 12 per cent to SEK 5 655 million.

At Romsås, Andrea Galåsen is the supervisor of three personal assistants. “I am not the only one who is fortunate because I have assistants. They are also fortunate to be working for me,” she says.

For her, the assistants mean that she can do what she wants.

“I decide whether the assistant should sit for three hours and read his book while I tidy up my wardrobe. Then I can ask now and again what colour is this or that garment, or whether the cake I am baking looks like it should. My assistants do not do things for me, but they make it possible for me to do them myself,” says Galåsen.

Facts about DNB’s healthcare commitment

  • The healthcare sector is a focus area for DNB in the Nordic region and internationally.
  • DNB is the market leader within banking services for the healthcare sector in the Nordic region and among the ten leading players in the United States.
  • DNB is an active business partner, regardless of where in the value chain and the development phase customers are, and offers, at all times, relevant services, including capital raising, financing and advisory services.
  • Throughout 2016, DNB’s position was further strengthened due to a number of high-profiled transactions in the Nordic region. These included advisory assignments (M&A), IPOs, capital raising and bond issues.