"Patients’ and carers' knowledge must be utilized better"
- The International Carers Conference feels both timely and necessary. It's important that we discuss how the citizens' needs for health and social care are to be met in the future'.
So says Anders Henriksson, Social Democrat council member in Kalmar County Council. He is also the first vice-chairman of the Board of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions.
When the traditional population pyramid comes to a head, we need to think innovatively in order to guarantee welfare services such as health care, says Anders Henriksson.
- Although the primary responsibility for good health care in the future should lie with the public sector, I think that we in Sweden need to involve patients and family members more, he says.
Getting it right from the start
Health care must simply be better at capitalizing on patients 'and relatives' knowledge, says Anders Henriksson.
- This increases the opportunities for carers to do the right thing from the start, leading to a safer and more efficient care, he says.
But one must not forget that families need support to cope with their situation, emphasizes Anders Henriksson. This can include information, education, counseling, support - for example, through discussion groups on the Internet - and new technologies that make life easier.
- This is where the Swedish Famliy Care Competence Centre has an important role to play, he says.
Wants to strengthen the carers' role
Anders Henriksson says that Kalmar County Council are already working to strengthen patients 'and carers' role in health care. An overall strategy for this development has recently been developed.
The strategy stresses that both patients and healthcare systems have much to gain from patients' and relatives' commitment and knowledge being better taken on board. Nka is a partner in the County Council's development work.
- the County Council want to bring about a change in the culture through involving patients and carers at all levels. This development will be presented at a seminar during the International Conference on Sunday, says Anders Henriksson.
Each situation is unique
Where the line between the State's and the family´s commitments should be drawn is difficult to say because every situation is unique, says Anders Henriksson. Sometimes it is a short trip for the patient, sometimes a lifetime. And what works well in one family, might not fit in with another.
- In this regard medical staff have to be responsive and involve the patients and carers in a dialogue. It's important that families do not feel abandoned. The main responsibility is always ours and we must not, for example delegate medical tasks to family members. There are formal rules that govern this and they must be followed in order to ensure the patient's safety, he explains.
Functioning care chains
Anders Henriksson also wants to emphasize functioning care chains as a condition for society to be able to offer a good health care in the future. It is not just about care chains within their own county council, but also in cooperation with other areas.
- We need to get better at holding together the patient's entire journey. Today, the experience of many patients and carers is that it is very complicated when counties and municipalities have to collaborate, he says.
Anders Henriksson believes that patients and carers who are confident, empowered and informed contact health care services less frequently.
- As I see it, there are only advantages to be had when involving patients and their families, provided that you take into account the individual needs and circumstances, he says.
Text: BARBRO FALK, Translation Richard Ilett.
Photo: Landstinget i Kalmar