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Person-centered care informs new Swedish standard for care for the elderly


A national standard for eldercare has been circulated for comment. If the proposal is adopted, Sweden will have a uniform specification of requirements that ensures quality eldercare based on individual needs. Helle Wijk and Axel Wolf represented the University of Gothenburg Centre for Person-centered Care (GPCC) on the project, which took almost two years to complete.

The standard, entitled Quality in care, service, nursing and rehabilitation for elderly with extensive needs at home or in assisted living, was drawn up by the Swedish Standards Institute on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and Eva Nilsson Bågenholm, Eldercare Coordinator.

Dr. Wijk, Associate Professor of Nursing at Sahlgrenska Academy, was vice chairman of the Technical Committee. She and Dr. Wolf, PhD in Nursing Sciences, participated in the project from the very beginning. Their determined effort to ensure that the principles of person-centered care would inform the proposal clearly paid off.

“Both the language and content of all the written material focuses on the elderly as individuals,” Dr. Wijk says. “For example, we never refer to them as users, patients or recipients. The proposal looks at all facets of proper care, service, nursing and rehabilitation, not simply basic needs but physical activity, social interactions and stimulation.”

Dr. Wijk is very pleased with the results. “Such a comprehensive efforts takes a long time. A highly knowledgeable, representative group of people with a tremendous sense of commitment looked at the various interests, requirements and challenges surrounding the care of elderly with extensive needs.”

The original goal in September 2012 was to develop one standard for those who live at home and another for those in assisted living facilities. The reason was that the services provided for the first population are governed by the Social Services Act, whereas those provided for the second population are governed by the Health and Medical Services Act. But the Technical Committee agreed to oppose the development of two different standards.

Dr. Wijk was elated. “Our view was that such compartmentalization is one of the biggest problems with current eldercare and we had no intention of reinforcing it. Our success in getting our point across represents a major step forward.”

The proposal has been circulated to several hundred groups and organizations for comment.

This news item was copied in from The Sahlgrenska Academy. Read the original piece here.