Courts as guarantor for an individualized and need based eldercare?

Karin Leijon is principal investigator of a research project on how administrative courts handle appeals in eldercare cases. The purpose of the project, which is carried out in collaboration with Linda Moberg, is to investigate the role of courts in determining the right of individuals to eldercare and to discuss the suitability of courts to make this type of decision.

Artwork: Susanne Gehlert

The administrative courts in Sweden have a particularly important role in assessing individuals’ right to social care services because they not only have the power to overturn a decision made by the municipalities - they can also replace the appealed decisions with a new one. This means that courts can establish that an individual is entitled to, for example, residential care despite being denied this by the local social welfare committee. As municipalities tend to make different interpretations of the concept of 'reasonable standard of living' and which type of care elderly are entitled to, the courts can be seen as the ultimate guarantors for the fulfilment of the Social Services Act's goal of a needs-based elderly care.

– The decisions that courts make in cases relating to social care and welfare services are of great importance both for individuals and for the financing of social welfare policy, says Karin Leijon, researcher at the Department of Government. Previous research shows that judges sometimes lack the expertise required to assess the needs of individuals and that it is problematic that the courts can affect the allocation of public funds, which is usually the responsibility of elected politicians. We therefore want to study how courts handle appealed decisions relating to eldercare. To what extent do courts change the decisions of the social welfare committees? Does the change result in a cost increase for the municipality concerned and how do the judges assess the individual's need for care?

Principal Investigator: Karin Leijon (Department of Government)

Period: 1 June 2020–31 May 2024 

Funding: SEK 6 000 000 from Forte

Research team

Karin Leijon

Researcher at Department of Government, Faculty

+4618-471 3452

researcher at Department of Government, Faculty

Linda Moberg

researcher at Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Health Services Research


researcher at Department of Government, Faculty

+4618-471 3746