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Merely a rhetorical promise? Older users' opportunities for choice and control in Swedish individualised home care services


A policy shift has taken place in Sweden towards individualised elder-care and consumer choice. The aim of the study is to investigate how older users of home care services view and experience their opportunities of exerting influence and having choice and control in their everyday living, in terms of receiving preferred services that are flexible and responsive to their actual needs and priorities. The study was conducted in three local elder-care authorities, reflecting diverse present models of organising home care services in Sweden. Data consisted of responses to a postal survey (N = 2,792) and reports from qualitative interviews (N = 28) with older users. Our findings point to similarities rather than differences between the views and experiences of the users in the three participating local municipal elder-care authorities. A majority of users were positive about their home care services. The experiences ranged from being active and enabled to choose between providers and services, to being more or less passive dependants having to rely on the decisions of family and staff. The importance of supportive relationships, and interdependence between older people and their formal as well as informal support networks, became clear. Our findings may guide policy makers in refining home care services, irrespective of preferred model. In particular, efforts to facilitate staff continuity and prevent high staff turnover need to be prioritised.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Anna Dunér, Department of Social Work, Centre for Ageing and Health – AgeCap, University of Gothenburg, PO Box 720, SE 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
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  • EISSN: 1469-1779
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