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Stockholm elderly care scandal widens
A file photo of an elderly care facility in Sweden

Stockholm elderly care scandal widens

Published: 02 Nov 2011 15:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 02 Nov 2011 15:24 GMT+01:00

Employees from yet another elderly care facility in Stockholm have revealed how major cut backs have meant staff shortages, broken equipment and sometimes no toilet paper.

”God, how we have cried. We have called superiors, tried to get the unions involved, but nothing has happened,” one of the workers told daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).

There are 92 old age pensioners residing at the Tallbohov nursing home, run by care company Carema, in the Stockholm suburb of Järfälla.

Staff and ex-employees have told DN that there often wasn't enough toilet paper, paper towlesl, alco gel, or soap to keep the place or the patients clean.

Sometimes, staff told the paper, the toilets would be so filthy that staff wouldn't sit down on them.

According to the staff, the management want them to do all cleaning, as well as repairing medical equipment, by themselves.

”But we haven't the time nor the expertise to do that,” an ex-employee said to the paper.

The day before health inspectors were due this year, an army of cleaners arrived at the home. All areas were thoroughly vacuumed and scoured, and all dispensers of soap, alco gel, toilet paper and rubber gloves in the pensioners' rooms were filled up.

”Carema ought to be ashamed of themselves. They should keep the place clean both for the elderly and for the staff. Not to scam the inspectors,” said one of the nurses to DN.

The cleaning used to be done by two cleaners but in a bid to save money, the company chose to add it to the staff responsibilities.

The need to make economies have also had another, more dire, consequence according to the staff who claim that the management question every prescription that would cost them money.

Another area where savings have been made are the residents' beds.

Earlier this spring one resident's bed broke, which was solved by requisitioning that of another patient, making him sleep on the floor for several months.

A third patient was too tall for his bed, but it took six months before he was given a new one, despite pleas from staff who were forced to tie his bed together, according tot he DN report.

”And when something ran out, it was out. Whether it was a question of diapers, food or toilet paper.”

According to the employees, management solved staff shortages by making personnel from other departments fill in 20 minutes here and there over the course of the day.

When staff tried to complain they were met with understanding. Eventually they went straight to the municipality's medical officer.

This was not appreciated by Carema's management, which told them that anything that happened at the home should stay within the walls of the facility.

Staff told DN that they eventually started photo copying the reports they made before handing them to management and keep their own records, just to cover their own backs if any of the pensioners' relatives would make a report to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

Järfälla municipality has announced that they won't be renewing Carema's contract when it runs out.

However, the company will continue to run the care facility until August 2012.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:37 November 2, 2011 by Online Personality
Wiki: The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs employs approximately 200 members of staff. About 20 of these are political appointees and 180 non-politically appointed officials. The ministry is headed by the Minister for Health and Social Affairs, currently Göran Hägglund (kd). Two more ministers serve at the Ministry: the Minister for Elderly Care and Public Health, Maria Larsson (kd) and Cristina Husmark Pehrsson (m), Minister for Social Security.
20:03 November 2, 2011 by mcarroll1
The homes are a disgrace in many areas, People should visit just to see how you would like to end up there because you will - it is the Swedish way. People think (hope/dont really care) that the state is looking after this for them and their elderly relatives. I know one very caring lady who in searching for a place for her Granny was horrified at the low standards abounding even in Ostermalm area of Stockholm- God only knows the horrors in other locations. Everyone will end up in one of these places so insist on the state living up to its responsibilities. Immigrants fare better than citizens who payed their whole lives into a tax system to provide them with better than this. When it comes to the home service provided by the State supervised (unsupervised) public/private home care system it is an even greater shambles. Here there is virtually no supervision other than vigilant relatives insisting on standards being maintained. Without that, turn your back for even a day and your elderly relative trying to keep out of the home is left hungry, unwashed, uncared for and unvisited except for enough time to record in the book what they say they did and of course didnt do. Money for old rope it is with some of these private companies cleaning up on the carlessness of the state supervisors. A crime, an outrage, highway robbery of tax payers money by unscrupulous,greedy so called 'care' companies. Many relatives either dont know or dont care as long as someone says they are doing the job. You need to take compete ownership and responsibility for your relative to ensure proper care and only the most dedicated, loving and self sacrificing person would do it. I know of only one such Angel in Sweden.
20:50 November 2, 2011 by dizzymoe33
It is shameful how the elderly are treated in Sweden. But unfortunately Sweden isn't the only Country that is treating their sick, disabled and elderly in this manner. Hopefully people will start to stand up and demand better care for their loved ones.
21:46 November 2, 2011 by matona1
it is a precious gift to grow old but if you are any power and abuse old people one day he or she will end their and be treated same way
21:48 November 2, 2011 by bourgeoisieboheme
Hmm, wonder where that money that could be going to care care of our eldery goes?
03:16 November 3, 2011 by yourkidding
Send an email to the minister in charge of Old Folks in Rest Homes in Sweden.

Maria Larsson registrator@social.ministry.se

I am getting the H out of Sweden before I need to go into one.
09:17 November 3, 2011 by asteriks
If people are nt nationalists, they would take their pension from Sweden and buy or rent a flat at Bulgarian black sea, pay some nurse 200 euro per month to care about you and you will enjoy like a king. Bulgaria is mega cheap. Smart people live in Africa and East Europe with money from West Europe.
11:32 November 3, 2011 by Puffin
Surely the staff are required to do a Lex Sara report if they felt conditions were this bad?? Why didn't they do this as it's a legal requirement

No point sending an e-mail to the Minister - under Swedush law the provision of old age care is a local responsibility the Minister is prevented by the consitutuion from interfereing in local matters - so you should e-mail the Head fo the Social Services Committee in Stockholm City Council
12:44 November 9, 2011 by thinkaboutit
For those who don't have a heart towards the elderly and no concern for their care, I ask this. Do you think you are going to stay young forever? God willing, eventually you too will be elderly. Then you will finally understand just how cruel people are to the aged. Your ignorant thoughts of today will come back to bite your behind in the future unless you help change the way things are handled now. The generation that you are raising will be caring for you in the future and they will likely follow your lead on elder care. The way you are treating current elders is certain to be how you will be treated when you reach their age. Hopefully, you will maintain enough thought process to realize just how foolish you were. When you are older, hungry, cold, hurting, without meds, lonely, homeless, etc... maybe then you will finally "get it". Too bad it will be too late for you then. You will be living the same existence that you thought was good enough for others! ENJOY!!!
10:14 March 22, 2012 by Josete1965
My name is Josep de Martí, I manage a website addressed to the nursing home industry in Spain (www.inforesidencias.com) throught which we organize trips to Sweeden to visit nursing homes and other services for the elder. We have always thought that we could learn from Sweeden and this information has worried me a lot. I think that, since almost all swedish old people living in a nursing home receive public economic suport to pay for it, it is just a matter of correct inspection and supervision. I am sure that the mere threat of a fine or of removing the permit to run a "publicly financed" nursing home would be enough to change things. By the way, next june a group of 15 Spanish nursing home directors will be visiting Sweden again to learn about your "reasonably successfull"" model.
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