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Social Inequalities and Discrimination


Wed 26. 8.  11:00 - 12:30
room FA 203

The “norm of equality” in Swedish public eldercare: Care managers’ accounts on equal needs of the elderly


Andersson, Katarina; Johansson, Stina; Feltenius, David
Umeå University, Sweden

The Swedish eldercare is a public responsibility and part of the welfare system, organized and administered by local politicians and care managers in each of the 290 municipalities in Sweden. An increase of the elder population and changes towards marketization, rationalisation and economizing of eldercare have resulted in restrictions of care. Political local guidelines on how care is to be distributed have a two-fold purpose – to keep costs of care on budgetary level and to distribute care equally to all the elder citizens in need of care. Lately, eldercare has become less generous and Nordic scholars have argued for a weakened universalism of care. The aim of the study is to analyse how care managers argue in relation to the needs-assessments that precede decisions of granted care. What is equal care according to the care managers? Qualitative in-depths interviews with care managers were conducted in one of the bigger municipalities in mid-Sweden. Analysis indicates that the norm of equality is interpreted as common standards, referring to political guidelines, not in relation to individual needs of the elderly. Further, groups of elderly with other ethnic backgrounds and/or sex, are often ascribed different needs, according to these standards and therefore they do not always qualify for provision of care. Thus, the norm of equality in eldercare creates inequalities in care provision between different groups and individuals, which challenge equal rights and justice of care and threatens universalism of eldercare.