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Priorities in care and services for elderly people: a path without guidelines?
  1. Åke Bergmark,
  2. Marti G Parker,
  3. Mats Thorslund
  1. Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden


    The growing gap between demands and resources is putting immense pressure on all government spending in Sweden. The gap is especially apparent in care and services for elderly people in light of the rapid aging of the population. The article considers the decisions and priorities concerning resource allocation in the welfare sector in general and in elderly care in particular. The aim is to describe the political and administrative setting and to provide a conceptual structure that outlines the nature of the problem. Various levels of decision making are identified and discussed in the context of political accountability. Current transitions in elderly care are described with respect to service provision, marketisation, coverage rates, and eligibility standards. Basic principles of distribution are highlighted in order to clarify some central concepts of efficiency and justice, and a number of strategies for actual prioritising are identified. The article concludes with an endorsement of more conscious decisions in resource allocation. Existing knowledge and information concerning the effects of various strategies must be utilised, and the values and assumptions used for setting priorities must be made explicit.

    • Resource allocation
    • elderly people
    • ageing populations
    • care of the elderly
    • welfare
    • priority setting

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    • Åke Bergmark, PhD, is Associate Professor of Social Work in the Department of Social Work, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden. Marti G Parker, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Social Work in the same department and Mats Thorslund, PhD, is Professor of Social Work, also in the Department of Social Work at Stockholm University.

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