Carema affair resulted in increased transparency and better routines

In October 2011 a situation arose which later came to be dubbed the Carema affair. That autumn and into the beginning of 2012, more than 4,000 articles were published, making this affair one of Sweden’s biggest-ever media-driven events.

It originated with a series of articles in the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter on the conflicts in Koppargården residential home for the elderly in Vällingby, Stockholm, which at the time was run by Carema Care. Several other media outlets caught wind of the story, including the Swedish state TV provider Sveriges Television, and coverage expanded about Carema and other private health and social care providers.

Problems had arisen at Koppargården even before it was taken over by Carema Care in 2008. A lot of hard work had been done to try to solve issues, but without complete success. A number of mistakes were made, by both Carema Care and other involved parties.

To begin with, media interest centred on the care itself, but was later directed more towards the owners and management. It became a catalyst for the debate on profits in the welfare sector – a controversy that has continued ever since.

Later, several independent audits showed that the media’s portrayal of Koppargården contained many inaccuracies and gross exaggerations. Media claims included, for example, that adult incontinence products were weighed and even re-used in order to save money. What was not revealed in connection with these reports was that testing incontinence protection by weighing it is a method recommended by Social Services and is very common in health and social care.

As a result of the events of 2011-2012, Ambea initiated a comprehensive review of all processes within the company, tightened up procedures and improved quality control systems. This has led to Ambea having the industry’s leading quality management system. There is now a very effective early-warning system to detect facilities where problems could occur and take preventive action. Today there is great awareness throughout the organisation of the importance of reporting any shortcomings or concerns, and the need to act on them immediately.

The Carema affair has contributed to increased transparency. Errors and reports are reviewed openly in our quality audit. Quality assessments are also carried out on a regular basis and the quality index for every one of our facilities is available on our websites. Overall, this has made Ambea stronger than ever before.