Structural flaws in Sweden’s elderly care coupled with inadequate measures from the government and agencies contributed to the country’s high death toll in nursing homes, according to a new report.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Sweden took a soft approach to the virus, which drew international criticism. The government left schools, restaurants and businesses open while appealing to people to socially distance.
An official commission was recently appointed to assess the government’s response as deaths at nursing homes mounted. Tuesday’s report blamed previously known problems within the elderly care system, for which authorities, regions, private care givers and municipalities share responsibility, for the deaths.
“It is the government that rules the country and has the ultimate responsibility. The government should have taken measures to ensure the elderly care was better equipped to deal with the pandemic”, said Mats Melin, the commission chairman.
Prime minister Stefan Lofven said in defense that health and elderly care are the responsibility of regional authorities and not the central government, while social affairs minister Lena Hallengren said the Social Democrat and Green government was preparing new legislation to regulate elderly care.
Sweden has suffered many times more deaths per capita than its Nordic neighbours, although fewer than some European countries that opted for lockdowns.