Local self-government, professionalism and court defiance in Swedish eldercare
Linda Moberg is principal investigator of a research project on how municipalities act when courts overturn their decisions about the right of individuals to eldercare services. The purpose of the project, which is carried out in collaboration with Karin Leijon, is to investigate to what extent, and under what conditions, municipalities defy the rulings of courts. Moreover, the project aims to increase the understanding of the feasibility to combine political and professional decision making with the opportunity to appeal to court.
In Sweden, individuals over the age of 65 years have the right to apply for publicly funded eldercare. Thereafter, municipal care managers, on behalf of locally elected politicians, investigate the needs of the elderly and decide what services s/he is entitled to. If dissatisfied with the decision, for instance if denied home care services or a place in a residential care home, the elderly can appeal to court. If the court overturns the municipal decision and grants the individual right to eldercare services, the municipality is responsible for promptly implementing the court’s ruling. Previous research, however, has pointed out that political and professional decision makers may perceive court decisions as unwarranted, suggesting that they occasionally would choose not to implement them.
– For Swedish eldercare, this kind of court defiance would mean that not all elderly receive the care they are entitled to, says Linda Moberg. Although the way municipalities handle courts’ ruling is of great importance for the individual elderly, empirical knowledge about how they act when courts overturn their decisions is limited. The project therefore studies to what extent and under what conditions municipalities defy the rulings of courts. Moreover, it focuses on how professional care managers and local politicians perceive their responsibility to enforce court rulings that overturn their initial decision, whether they find it legitimate for the municipality to sometimes defy court rulings.
Principal Investigator: Linda Moberg (Department of Government and Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences)
Period: 1 January 2022–31 December 2024
Funding: SEK 4 980 000 from Forte