Broad plan to strengthen Skellefteå's elderly care

Skellefteå municipality unveiled a substantial package on Monday to bolster care services for the elderly. "This will significantly improve the quality of life for our senior citizens while also enhancing working conditions for our staff," said municipal councilor Evelina Fahlesson (S).

Evelina Fahlesson (S) and Carina Sundbom (C) were two of those who presented the investmen to be made in elderly care.

Evelina Fahlesson (S) and Carina Sundbom (C) were two of those who presented the investmen to be made in elderly care.

Foto: Johanna Sandgren

Skellefteå2024-03-19 16:15

The investment in elderly care enjoys broad political support. Representatives from six major parties – Social Democrats, Left Party, Moderate Party, Centre Party, Christian Democrats, and Liberals – participated in the presentation of the comprehensive package.

–This is a collaborative effort to strengthen elderly care, explained Fahlesson.

–The package focuses on security, social interaction, and ensuring an adequately-staffed, competent workforce.

Andreas Löwenhöök (M) believes that the package presented is important.

Discussions on specific proposals began last autumn, said opposition councilor Andreas Löwenhöök (M).

– It's crucial to view this package holistically. It addresses various aspects, including enabling seniors to remain at home, selecting the most suitable care facilities, and bolstering the workforce to guarantee high-quality and secure care.

The package outlines seven key initiatives:

Guaranteed employment for nursing students: The municipality will offer permanent positions to all graduates of the nursing and care program. 

– This means everyone who completes the program will be offered a permanent job in elderly care, said Carina Sundbom (C). Summer and part-time opportunities during students' studies will also be available.

Training healthcare assistants: The municipality will finance the education of healthcare assistants who wish to become nursing assistants. 

– We face a shortage of nursing assistants, explained Fahlesson.

– We aim to motivate our existing staff to pursue this career path and establish ourselves as an attractive employer by financing their professional certification.

Driver's license support: A driver's license support program will be introduced to ensure wider accessibility across the municipality.

– Our municipality is geographically vast. We need staff representation throughout the region to provide home care for our elderly residents. As an employer, we want to contribute to obtaining staff get their driver's licenses. This could involve newly hired staff from the nursing and care program, as well as other eligible employees, says Fahlesson.

Increased short-term accommodation: The municipality will establish more short-term accommodation spaces, particularly for patients awaiting discharge from hospitals.

– We've encountered situations where patients ready for discharge are forced to remain in hospitals. We aim to create more short-term accommodation facilities. It's vital for the elderly to transition smoothly to the most appropriate residence.

Investment in sheltered accommodation: Sheltered accommodation plays a crucial role for many active seniors who cannot manage tasks such as house maintenance but still desire a degree of independence.

– Many also value a more vibrant social life and companionship. The budget will see a significant increase to create new sheltered residences, said Per Boström (KD)

Enhancing meeting places for seniors: The plan includes dedicated support for establishing more meeting places for the elderly throughout the municipality. 

– Social isolation and loneliness are significant risks for many seniors, said. We want to create more meeting spaces and improve opportunities for social interaction, said Fahlesson.

Intergenerational community building: An investment will be made in the "Ung Omsorg" (Young Care) concept, fostering connections between young people and the elderly through various activities. 

– This initiative aims to enrich the lives of seniors by involving young people in activities that care staff may not have time for, like playing music, reading aloud, playing games, or simply enjoying coffee together, said Christina Soldan (L).

Per Boström (KD) revealed that there will be an investment in more sheltered housing in the municipality.

However, the construction of a new nursing and care facility with 80 places at Sunnanå has been temporarily paused.

– Currently, the biggest challenge is staffing, not the number of available beds, explained Fahlesson.

– There's even excess capacity in elderly care facilities at the moment. The decision to pause construction will be reviewed annually.

The exact costs of these investments are still being determined. The financing plan will be incorporated into the 2025 budget, and further investigations into the details of the entire package will be conducted.

Nils Engström, chairman of SPF Guldstaden, a senior citizen's organization, commented on the investments:

– I understand the municipality's focus on staff recruitment. There's a critical shortage, not just in Skellefteå but nationwide.

Regarding the paused Sunnanå facility, he said:

– If there's sufficient capacity, suspending construction seems like a wise decision.