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SWEDISH ELDERLY CARE SCANDAL
Care home turned cost cutting 'into a game'

Care home turned cost cutting 'into a game'

Published: 22 Dec 2011 07:44 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Dec 2011 07:44 GMT+01:00

Swedish nursing home operator Carema Care urged staff to engage in games to see how much they could save on elderly residents' food, diapers, and protective gloves, according to employees.

“When ten residents needed to eat, you bought food for six or seven,” an employee at the Carema-run Kastanjen care home in the north Stockholm suburb of Järfälla told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

The so-called “Carema Game” consisted of 16 “attitude cards” which included various claims, such as “The best idea for improvement is that I save hours and minutes".

A former employee told the newspaper that the point of the game was to allow managers to see how employees answered.

Employees' answers were then recorded in a log by divisional or operational managers.

“As a little competition every month, see which division has spent the least. Maybe give one another tips and suggestions at the same time,” read one personnel file from the Kastanjen care home.

Representatives from Carema claim that the game was simply “a tool to prompt discussions at the workplace” with a few “dramatically formulated” questions.

The company also explained that employees' responses were written down, but that they weren't logged “in a formal manner”.

Rather, the proposed solutions that came up during the course of the game were recorded in an “improvement log”.

But Carema employees tell a different story, characterizing the game as something that led to “indoctrination and fear” among staff.

In addition to ordering fewer meals than there were patients, care home staff also tore up napkins into four pieces in an effort to use resources more efficiently.

“It's shameful. These are adults and they get a tiny napkin. Nowhere else in society is this done,” said on employee.

Carema also urged care home staff to think carefully about whether or not they needed to use slightly more expensive vinyl gloves when attending to patients, or if they might be able to get by using cheaper, plastic gloves instead.

“We were only to use vinyl gloves if we were going to attend to an infected wound, like multi-resistent bacteria. Otherwise we used plastic gloves when we washed elderlies' behinds,” one employee told DN.

“They cost a few kronor less per package, but they rip easily and you can get feces on your hands. They are also scrape the elderly residents' buttocks.”

According to the minutes of one employee meeting reviewed by DN, employees were also encouraged to think twice before delivering medicine to patients in a plastic cup.

“Everything is only about saving, saving, saving,” one of the nursing home employees told DN.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:06 December 22, 2011 by NickJT
I wonder how a care company can go about find ways for cutting costs without arousing public opinion as above? Whereas I don't like what I read in this article for several reasons we still want these companies to provide good quality care for a good price. What they need to do is take a baseline snapshot of the quality of care being offered at the moment and after each cost cutting exercise show by measuring again that care levels are either equal to the baseline or preferably better. If the Swedish state or a Kommun feels that they want to reduce the baseline level of care measured then they should indicate this to the Care company as being something they agree to.
11:44 December 22, 2011 by Grokh
1 - they should all have gone to jail

2 - this is the perfect reflection of how corporations and banks work, proft profit profit.

3 - what have we learned ?

a: you dont go to jail for acting inhumane, without ethics or morals if you do it for profit profit profit.
18:35 December 22, 2011 by Douglas Garner
@Grokh... this is also a perfect example of how government works.

We, the voters, elect officials to represent our interests including such things as how much tax we are willing to pay and how it is to be used. If we do not clearly mandate the level of care we expect for our seniors and agree to pay an appropriate fee for that service, it is our (again, the voters) fault!

Now that I think about it, Grokh... is supect your home runs on the same principle!
20:12 December 22, 2011 by engagebrain
A for profit organization will always gouge for more profits.

A not for profit organization with the right ethos just might operate for the benefit of the patients.

There needs to be external oversight to protect those who are unable to voice their complaints
20:37 December 22, 2011 by Kaethar
Will someone please just shut these people down. Everyone who uses Carema should switch companies so they're forced to close. However, I am generally skeptical about private companies handling elderly care. Like healthcare I believe it should be run by the state. So hopefully awareness of these issues will encourage different parties to make this a part of their platform.
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