Abuse and malpractice in Swedish healthcare system

Click here for the Swedish press release.

Though Sweden enjoys a global reputation for having excellent health care, the basis for that reputation comes from outdated statistics from the 1970s. As we can see from this example, where healthcare is decentralised to the municipal council, standards can plummet without retribution.

In the remote northern Swedish village of Gäddede, 93-year-old Ida Johansson is a stroke victim being denied rehabilitation. Since 2012, Ida has been committed to a retirement home called Levinsgården, where she and others suffer physical, mental, and emotional abuse at the hands of doctors and staff, despite continuous reports to authorities.

Ida’s son, Calle Johansson, is fighting for Ida to be moved from the home to appropriate post-stroke rehabilitation, where her needs are met and her wishes heard; he is also calling for wholesale changes in Levinsgården so no other elderly people have to endure what his mother is going through.

Ida suffered a stroke in 2012. Against her wishes, she was moved to Levinsgården after her emergency care in ICU. Levinsgården is a facility which not only cannot provide for her post-stroke needs, but has a reputation for mistreatment.

At Levinsgården:

  • Ida is forced to lie in bed most of the time, against her will. Other residents are frequently confined to their rooms, encouraged to rest all day, and provided with no alternative activities or physical/intellectual stimulation, so effectively they have no choice. The rooms are soundproofed and frequently locked. Bed rest is contra to recommended stroke rehabilitation, never mind basic maintenance of health. Additionally, isolation in darkness brings on depression and feelings of loneliness.
  • We have evidence that at least two of the residents, including Ida, are frequently left to soil themselves in bed, their requests for bathroom access denied. They are then left lying in their own waste for hours at time; this is psychologically destructive, as well as potentially life-threatening (through septicemia).
  • Ida and the other residents are excessively sedated, to the point of confusion and loss of coordination.
  • Ida’s general health is not being maintained; she has untreated lung, skin and toenail infections.
  • Ida’s oral health is not being maintained. Tooth-brushing is often neglected, so over the past two years, she has lost many teeth, and suffers extreme pain when eating. The risk of infection is also potentially lethal at her age.
  • Staff show no respect for any of the residents, talking over their heads, handling or moving them without warning or explaining what they are doing, and almost never conversing with them normally.
  • A crucial social time for the residents at Levinsgården is meal time, but meals are eaten in silence, presided over by one member of staff, and visitors are forced to leave.
  • Ida is treated as though she has no mental capacity by other members of her family and staff, despite being clearly communicative of decisions and opinions. Her expressions of like or dislike, assent or objection, fear or happiness (limited minimally by her lack of speech, post-stroke, which could be regained with rehabilitation) are disregarded.
  • Ida, a devout practising Christian, is excluded from the church service on Sundays because staff define her enthusiastic singing as ‘disruptive’.

Mandi Gould, a friend of Ida’s, who is coordinating efforts to support her from Canada, says: “What is going on there has shocked and angered us. Ida is drugged, seemingly for the staff’s convenience; she is kept isolated, in the dark and in bed for most of the day. Generally, residents’ health care is negligible and staff just don’t seem to care. Our attempts to report the abuse have been ineffective. Anyone who could see firsthand what we have would be appalled and upset by the human rights violations. When you entrust someone who is vulnerable to a nursing home, the very least you would expect would be care and compassion. We simply haven’t seen Ida receive either.”

The efforts of Ida’s son, Calle Johansson, to raise his concerns about Ida’s treatment to the local and municipal authorities have been unsuccessful, to the extent that he has been actively threatened and harassed.

Friends of Ida and Calle Johansson, some of whom are currently in Gäddede or have been to visit Ida there over the last couple of years, are now taking their findings to Swedish politicians, police, international media and international human rights organisations.

  3. Meurman JH, Hämäläinen P. Gerodontology. 2006 Mar;23(1):3­16. Review. Oral health and morbidity­­ implications of oral infections on the elderly. PMID: 6433636 [PubMed ­ indexed for MEDLINE] Retrieved from


Contact Calle Johansson for further details:

Sweden +46 76 11 46 188