About the COVID-19 virus: for older people, people with health conditions and health and social care staff, 25 September

Published

Here you can read more about current measures in health and social care and health and social care staff. This is the fifth article in a series about the work of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs in response to the COVID-19 virus.

Crisis support for staff in health and elderly care who worked with COVID-19 patients

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of pressure on health care services and elderly care. Staff have had an extremely heavy and often stressful workload and have worked very hard. The risk of mental ill health may have increased. This is why the Government proposes funds to support staff in regional and municipal health care and elderly care in its autumn amending budget for 2020. This will make money available for crisis support, counselling and trauma support. The proposal is based on an agreement between the government parties, the Centre Party and the Liberal Party.

Visiting ban at homes for older people ends on 1 October

In Sweden the ban on visits to special housing for older people ended on 1 October. This decision was based on a lower spread of the virus in the community, the measures already taken in elderly care services, and new government agency regulations and recommendations.

Billions set aside to continue fighting COVID-19 in 2021

In 2020, the Government has set aside almost SEK 7 billion to support large-scale testing throughout Sweden and promote active contact tracing. In recent weeks, more than 100 000 tests for active COVID-19 infection have been carried out each week. Testing and contact tracing are important tools in fighting the pandemic and they need to continue in 2021 too. In the Budget Bill for 2021 the Government therefore proposes SEK 2 billion for continued testing and contact tracing in the regions. The Government also proposes increasing funding to the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the National Board of Health and Welfare in 2021. This will help ensure continued access to personal protective equipment and other measures. The proposals are based on an agreement between the government parties, the Centre Party and the Liberal Party.

Sweden to host EU reserves of protective and medical equipment

Sweden is one of the six countries chosen to host the EU’s reserves of emergency medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE). The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency will be responsible for these reserves in Sweden, which are part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and its operative capacity, known as rescEU. The EU has chosen the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, the National Board of Health and Welfare and the Defence Materiel Administration to host reserves of medical equipment, such as ventilators, and personal protective equipment, such as face masks and protective gowns. This equipment can be used in times of crisis when EU Member States do not have enough supplies of their own to meet their needs.

Sweden takes part in global mechanism for buying COVID-19 vaccines

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) have started the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) to guarantee that future COVID-19 vaccines are shared fairly among every country in the world. Sweden will take part in COVAX, together with the European Commission and other EU Member States.

Extension of COVID-19-related social insurance measures

Since the pandemic struck, the Swedish Government has taken many measures in the area of social insurance to lessen the impact of the pandemic. These measures aim to prevent the spread of infection, ease the pressure on health care, strengthen financial security and lessen the consequences for employers. Other measures allow parents to stay home with their children if schools are closed. The Government has proposed extending these COVID-19-related sickness insurance measures and temporary parental benefits. The Government’s proposals are based on an agreement between the government parties, the Centre Party and the Liberal Party.

SEK 4 billion to manage delayed care

During the first few months of the pandemic, health care had to make changes to provide care to patients who were critically ill with COVID-19 or other acute illnesses. Many scheduled visits and operations had to be delayed. To help health care services get back on track after COVID-19, the Government proposes in the Budget Bill for 2021 that the regions be given SEK 4 billion in 2021 and in 2022. The proposal is based on an agreement between the government parties, the Centre Party and the Liberal Party.

New regulation helps patients who could not go to the dentist because of COVID-19

The Government has decided to adjust the national dental care subsidy to compensate patients who could not go to the dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new compensation period started for these patients on 1 September 2020. This period will extend for the same number of days that were lost.

Survey of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on family carers

The Swedish Family Care Competence Centre has been given SEK 1 million to identify the impact that COVID-19 has had on family carers, staff supporting family carers and financial support given to family carers. The Centre will propose immediate and long-term support measures during the current pandemic and future crises and pandemics.

Evaluation of care for long-term COVID-19 symptoms

Little is known about the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on the group of patients who have symptoms long after their initial illness. And little is known about how large this group is, since other illnesses and health problems may sometimes be involved.

This is why the Government has instructed the Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services to carry out a systematic review of patients with long-term COVID-19 symptoms. This includes compiling the scientific data available on care, treatment and rehabilitation. International data and experience in this area will also be studied.

Scenarios for new COVID-19 outbreaks

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has been instructed to create different scenarios, both national and regional, of how COVID-19 could spread in Sweden over the coming year, focusing on the final months of 2020. The different scenarios must contain key assumptions, number of cases and death rates.

COVID-19-related measures in social services

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the National Board of Health and Welfare and the Public Health Agency of Sweden will investigate the need for regulations in some social services. This includes services targeting older people and people with disabilities.

Review of homes for older people presented

In June, the Health and Social Care Inspectorate reviewed all 1 700 homes for older people in Sweden. This review found that 40 municipalities were particularly vulnerable, with almost 70 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths occurring in homes for older people.