'Privatization doesn't make care homes better'

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'Privatization doesn't make care homes better'

There is no evidence to suggest a link between market reforms within the care homes sector in Scandinavia and an improvement in quality, according to a new report published by Stockholm University.


"This report... is the first effort to comprehensively document the process of marketisation in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway," the report's authors said in a statement.

The report, entitled "Marketisation in Nordic eldercare: a research report on legislation, oversight, extent and consequences", is produced by the department of social work at Stockholm University and has been compiled in response to the wave of market reforms in care services in recent years.

The study includes contributions from researchers in Canada and the US -

two countries with a much longer history of elderly operated for profit.

The study concluded that in Canada and the US, care homes operated for profit have significantly lower quality than those run on a non-profit purposes.

"These contributions offer some perhaps salutary warnings for the Nordic countries about the risks of increasing competition and private provision in eldercare."

Private care homes for the elderly in Scandinavia are typically run on a publicly financed basis. This provides for the retention of a high degree of public control over the sector.

Sweden and Finland have been at the forefront of much of this market-led change in the region. Typical market-inspired measures including competitive tendering and user choice models.

The report notes that even within the countries the differences remain significant. In Stockholm, for example, the vast majority of care homes for the elderly are run privately, while in some areas of the country much remains under municipal control.

However, the private elder care sector remains a fairly recent phenomenon and the report's authors called for more research on the issue to track change.

"Our hope is that the report will provide both a foundation and an inspiration for further research."

TT/The Local/pvs

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