Sweden's special care homes for elderly see dramatic rise in deaths in April: report

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STOCKHOLM, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Sweden saw a tripling of deaths at special care homes for elderly people in April compared to the same period last year, figures from the Swedish Register of Palliative Care (SRPC) indicated.

Nearly 800 deaths were reported to SRPC from the Stockholm region alone last month, Swedish Television reported on Thursday.

By comparison, in April 2019, 270 deaths were reported to SRPC, a national quality register that contributes to research and development of palliative care in Sweden. The national figure was 2,634 dead in April this year, compared with 1,728 for April of 2019.

Staffan Lundstrom, a researcher responsible for the SRPC, told Swedish Television on Thursday that a growing number of elderly people are being classified as dying and in need of palliative care, with many being examined remotely rather than being seen in person by doctors.

According to Swedish Television, a person deemed to be in a palliative state is not sent to the hospital in Sweden, but instead receives care at the elderly home to optimize the quality of life and mitigate suffering in the final stage of life.

"I think that a significantly lower number of people are being visited and diagnosed 'live'... In the best of worlds, the doctor would visit every single patient, but I don't think that has been possible," Lundstrom told Swedish Television.

During the COVID-19 epidemic in Sweden, the number of reported deaths has increased dramatically, which Lundstrom said "reflects what we're also seeing in the rest of the world."

Normally, around 75 percent of those who die at special care homes for the elderly in Sweden are recorded in the SRPC. However, SRPC does not specify whether or not COVID-19 was the cause of death, or whether the elderly person received palliative care before dying.

According to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, as of October 2018, there were 88,000 Swedes aged 65 or older living in special care homes, where the residents live in their own apartments but have access to care facilities and personnel. Enditem

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