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Stockholm elderly care scandal widens

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Stockholm elderly care scandal widens
A file photo of an elderly care facility in Sweden
15:24 CET+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.

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