For most, it is a given that society should arrange for the care of the elderly and those with disabilities. In Sweden this care has evolved from being delivered primarily in an institutional setting to include a diverse range of individually tailored solutions.
Another aspect here is that the need for care has increased – and will only continue to grow. In January 2017 the number of registered inhabitants in Sweden passed the 10-million mark; not since the 1800s have we witnessed such a rapid rate of population growth. At the same time, the population as a whole is getting older: by 2035, the number of Swedes 80 years or older will increase by more than 75 percent. According to Statistics Sweden (SCB), half of the Swedish children born today will live to be at least 90 years old.
Maintaining today’s level of elder care requires significant expansion of these services. To meet the needs indicated by SCB’s statistics, approximately 42,000 new residential placements must be created in Sweden’s elder-care systems by 2030. The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket) has forecasted that the number of Swedish municipalities with a long-term shortage of elder-care housing will double.
The increasing average age of the population will also bring increased demand for special support. The National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) anticipates the number of Swedish dementia patients will almost double by 2050.
The number of persons entitled to care services within the framework of the Swedish Act Concerning Support and Service for Persons with Certain Functional Impairments (LSS) will also increase. LSS is designed to guarantee equal living conditions and participation in society for people with extensive and chronic functional disabilities. Between 2013 and 2015, this group increased by almost seven percent, while population growth in the same period was approximately two percent.
As Sweden’s population expands and the number of persons with mental-health and other functional disabilities increases, more housing specifically adapted to these needs will be required. Today there is already a significant shortage of LSS housing and living arrangements. Approximately 1,500 children, adolescents and adults are currently waiting for accommodation, despite having LSS-based approval entitling them to placement.
We see the same situation in family and individual care. Our operations include residential care for children and young persons (HVB homes), special housing, treatment homes and housing support. Mental illness is on the rise, as are complex cases involving multiple diagnoses. The number of people suffering from severe anxiety and other mental-health issues is growing steadily – particularly among younger age groups. Approximately nine percent of those aged 16–24 are estimated to be dealing with a wide range of psychiatric problems.
In addition to all these phenomena, which are closely connected to Sweden’s modern-day demographic development, we see a range of environmental factors influencing our business.
Providing the same good care of today is a challenge that demands growth and new ways of working. In 2015 care services represented 38 percent of municipal spending in Sweden – second only to education. Private operators contribute in important ways to increase care efficiency and reduce costs.
Other factors of significance for Ambea’s operations include increasing requirements on quality and broadened regulations, which mean that we need new capabilities and resources to develop our operations and competence. Another vital aspect is the care recipient’s freedom of choice. The possibility to choose the best housing or care provision solution for the individual is becoming increasingly important for recipients and those close to them, as well as the political decision-makers.