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J Aging Soc Policy. 2011 Oct;23(4):335-53. doi: 10.1080/08959420.2011.605630.

Informal caregiving for elders in Sweden: an analysis of current policy developments.

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Research Coordinator, The National Board of Health and Welfare, Stockholm, Sweden.


In Sweden, care of elderly people is a public responsibility. There are comprehensive public policies and programs providing health care, social services, pensions, and other forms of social insurance. Even so, families are still the major providers of care for older people. In the 1990s, the family was "rediscovered" regarding eldercare in Sweden. New policies and legislative changes were promoted to support family caregivers. The development of services and support for caregivers at the municipal level has been stimulated through the use of national grants. As a result, family caregivers have received more recognition and are now more visible. However, the "Swedish model" of publicly financed services and universal care has difficulty addressing caregivers. Reductions in institutional care and cutbacks in public services have had negative repercussions for caregivers and may explain why research shows that family caregiving is expanding. At the same time, a growing "caregivers movement" is lobbying local and national governments to provide more easily accessible, flexible, and tailored support. In 2009, the Swedish Parliament passed a new law that states: "Municipalities are obliged to offer support to persons caring for people with chronic illnesses, elderly people, or people with functional disabilities." The question is whether the new legislation represents a paradigm shift from a welfare system focused on the individual to a more family-oriented system. If so, what are the driving forces, motives, and consequences of this development for the different stakeholders? This will be the starting point for a policy analysis of current developments in family caregiving of elderly people in Sweden.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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