Sweden launches major investigation into all 1,700 nursing homes after coronavirus exposes “serious flaws” – as former Government official says country should have locked down

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The Health and Social Care Inspectorate (IVO) has announced it will examine the care provided to aged care residents during the COVID-19 pandemic amid media headlines and their own concerns that some residents were not being given access to oxygen treatment.

“What we have seen and what has been reported in the media is serious. Everyone who needs it should receive good healthcare and social care. That applies as much now, during an ongoing crisis, as ever,” IVO director-general, Sofia Wallström, said.

The investigation follows the inspection of over 1,000 aged care homes, home care series and care homes for people with disabilities across Sweden which discovered ‘serious flaws’ in one in ten homes.

The probe will look at:

  • If people who live in special housing receive care and treatment based on the individual’s needs
  • If individual assessments are made regarding the need for care level
  • If there are conditions for providing special care and treatment to those who are not deemed to be in need of hospital care (including palliative care) at the special housing units.

In short, if person-centred care is being provided – including medical treatment.

The investigation will run for three weeks from 1 to 21 June and include all of the country’s 1,700 aged care homes.

Early research has found that of the 2,000 people who died of COVID-19 up to April 28 in Sweden, 1,877 (90%) were aged over 70.

948 of those in this aged group were aged care residents – representing around 50% of all deaths in the country.

The news comes as Sweden’s former state epidemiologist, Dr Annika Linde, said in hindsight, the country probably should have instituted a lockdown for at least a month.

“I think we’re starting to see that the Swedish model maybe hasn’t been the smartest in every respect,” she said.

Dr Linde said the Swedish strategy – which encouraged sick staff to stay home until they felt better and encouraged regular handwashing is encouraged – didn’t take into account the asymptomatic nature of the virus or how easily it spreads with close contact.

“That turned out to be totally insufficient in light of all the possible vectors of transmission that go hand-in-hand with the kind of work you have to do when you’re caring for people,” she said. “It was a clear misjudgment.”