Contradictions in elderly care: a descriptive study of politicians' and managers' understanding of elderly care

Health Soc Care Community. 2003 Jan;11(1):27-35. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2524.2003.00403.x.


The care of older people in Sweden has undergone several major reorganisations during the past decade. The healthcare organisation, governed by the county councils, previously had the responsibility of providing care services for elderly people. However, the local municipalities have taken over that duty since 1992. The obligation of the health services is now restricted solely to medical issues. The present study focused on the understanding that politicians and managers have about caring for older people. A section of Stockholm with a population of 320,000 inhabitants was studied. The authors hypothesised that differences in understanding might have an impact on the services of care which older people receive. Interviews were conducted with eight leading politicians and 12 managers responsible for elderly care services. The main focus of inquiry concerned the participants' understanding of caring for older people. The results indicate that politicians and managers in elderly care sometimes have divergent views on how the care should be developed and produced to best serve older people. Five themes of understanding elderly care services and eight contradictory statements among the respondents were identified. A follow-up group session with the respondents was conducted to discuss the results of the interviews. The different ways of understanding elderly care services showed a complex and fragmented organisation lacking clear goals, structures and leadership. However, the authors found a willingness among respondents to collaborate with one another, as well as indications of positive attitudes toward improving healthcare, domiciliary and nursing care of older people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Comprehension
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Facility Administrators / psychology*
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Services for the Aged / standards*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Local Government*
  • Male
  • Politics
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Social Responsibility
  • Sweden