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Health Soc Care Community. 2005 Jul;13(4):366-77.

According to need? Predicting the amount of municipal home help allocated to elderly recipients in an urban area of Sweden.

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Department of Social Work, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.


Given the cutbacks which have been carried out in the Swedish welfare state despite the unchanged official policy of allocation of home help services according to needs, it is essential to evaluate the factors which guide the allocation of home help today. Whereas numerous studies have identified factors which predict entry into the home help system, the present paper concentrates on predictors of the amount of home help amongst those allocated assistance. Data were obtained from the population-based care and services section of the 2002 Swedish National Study of Aging and Care-Kungsholmen (SNAC-K). All home help recipients (> or = 65 years of age) living in an inner city district of Stockholm (Kungsholmen) were analysed with ordinary least squares regressions to identify predictors of the number of hours of home help (n = 943). Need indicators, i.e. dependency in activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental ADLs (IADLs), and cognitive impairment (Berger scale) were the strongest predictors of more hours of home help. The addition of sociodemographic (i.e. age, gender and income), environmental (i.e. informal care, housing adaptations and housing accessibility) and structural (i.e. variations in allocation decisions between one care manager and another) factors contributed only marginally to the explained variance. Hours of help entitlement increased slightly with greater age. Co-residing individuals were allocated significantly fewer home help hours than those living alone. Income and regular access to informal care were not significant predictors. The fact that services are provided according to need criteria does not necessarily mean that the provided services are adequate to meet needs. On the macro level, social policy decisions and available economic and manpower resources determine the allotment of municipal home help. However, this study in an urban sample suggests that, within the available resources, the amount of home help allocated is guided mainly by need indicators amongst those given assistance.

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