Reinfeldt: ‘focus on elderly instead of unemployed’

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has promised to devote billions of kronor to care for the elderly.

Reinfeldt: 'focus on elderly instead of unemployed'

The initiative was presented on Monday as Reinfeldt visited a nursing home in Borås in western Sweden.

The visit was the first in a series of visits planned by the Moderate Party to public sector agencies.

Reinfeldt’s recipe for better care for the elderly includes more resource, greater freedom for staff, and other efficiency improvements.

He emphasized that it was time for a renewed commitment to caring for the country’s pensioners.

“In order to make a difference, we’re talking about billions. We plan to focus on this initiative instead of focusing on those who don’t work. That’s the path we’ve chosen,” said Reinfeldt.

The government has already committed 1.35 billion kronor per year up to 2010 in order to improve the quality of care, as well as 500 million kronor to increase the number of spaces available.

Reinfeldt is prepared to devote even more money, but he won’t give more precise information about how or when the extra resources will be handed out. Visits to different facilities will help provide guidance, however.

“We’ll come back to how we plan to demarcate,” he said.

The Prime Minister wants harder controls to ensure that the money doesn’t end up in a “black hole” at the county and municipal level.

“They’re not going to be able to use the money for tax cuts or floor ball facilities,” he said.

Touring a part of the facility which catered to Finnish-speaking residents, Reinfeldt said he didn’t feel that top-down legislation was the right way to provide more wards for residents with native languages other than Swedish.

“That should happen locally where people know what the needs are,” he said.

Between now and the Moderate’s party conference in August, officials from the party plan to make 1,500 visits to see how schools, day care centres, hospitals and nursing homes function.

A similar number of visits are planned for the period following the conference and leading up to the 2010 parliamentary elections.