Service provision and access to services in Nordic rural areas
Service provision is one of the key factors that make rural areas attractive and viable. Recent and ongoing developments, such as migration flows, digitalisation and the effects of climate change influence service accessibility and perceptions of which services are essential for everyday rural lives. It is therefore relevant to investigate service provision and access to services from different perspectives. This report presents results based on in-depth field work in eight case studies of rural areas identified as having high access to services or as good examples in their national and regional context: Lolland, Suðuroy, Kinnula, Avannaata, Múlaþing, Herøy, Vimmerby and Geta. The aim of the field work has been to investigate service provision and validate the results of a research and policy review focusing on Nordic rural areas. The investigations presented in this report focus on the following questions: Which services are considered essential, and how does that vary in rural areas across the Nordics? How are services provided, what roles and responsibilities are involved in their provision? Which challenges are encountered, and what solutions are being developed to solve challenges associated with access to essential services in Nordic rural areas? In answering these questions based on the eight case studies, the report aims to create knowledge and inspire actors in and around the Nordic rural areas. The answers can be read as a source of inspiration in their own right. The case study descriptions also enable a cross-Nordic comparison, aimed at identifying common patterns and unique Nordic innovations regarding rural service provisions, from which others can learn. It is therefore possible to gain an overview of the report solely from the cross-Nordic comparison.
Can we break the isolation? Experiences of digital tools in elderly care in three Swedish municipalities
Loneliness and social isolation pose significant challenges for older people living alone and in nursing homes by affecting their physical and mental health. Due to requirements for self-isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, these challenges have been further exacerbated. The use of digital technology in elderly care has the potential to combat social isolation, for example, by increasing access to home care and providing opportunities to participate in social activities. Nevertheless, previous knowledge about the efficiency of digital interventions to counteract the loneliness of older people is limited. The new report investigates how caregivers have dealt with the challenges of loneliness and social isolation of the elderly population during the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on the use of digital technologies. The aim was also to understand better how digital tools can be used in a socially inclusive way in elderly care. The research method consisted of semi-structured interviews with municipal officials, senior care managers and senior care staff in three case study municipalities (Huddinge, Eskilstuna and Storuman). In addition, older adults who live in nursing homes and at home with support efforts such as home care were interviewed, and a mapping analysis of the case study municipalities was carried out. The transcribed interview material was analysed using a qualitative manifest content analysis method. According to the interview results in the three case study municipalities, the pandemic has not been a considerable driving force for a digital transformation in elderly care. In all municipalities, they had started working on certain digitisation efforts even before the pandemic broke out in the spring of 2020. With the pandemic, they had to make quick and courageous decisions, and the municipalities also received state grants that enabled digital investments, such as the purchase of digital equipment. In addition, the elderly care staff supported the elderly using digital…
Welfare institutes in sparsely populated areas
This working paper is a part of Welfare institutes in sparsely populated areas (WIiSPA) project. The overall purpose of it is to clarify and determine the definition of WIiSPA and identify WIiSPA actors in sparsely populated areas (SPAs) in the Nordic Region and beyond. Underpinning the concept of WIiSPA is the belief that the stable provision of health and social care services is crucial for regional development. In other words, a well-functioning welfare sector with effective and accessible services is a prerequisite for regional growth across different sectors in SPAs. Another important objective is to promote the development and revitalisation of welfare services in rural areas through networking and knowledge-sharing with other WIiSPA actors across the Nordic Region. Since SPAs in the Nordic countries often face similar challenges, this pan-Nordic WIiSPA network would facilitate the implementation of results and recommendations based on Nordic welfare and regional development projects. WIiSPAs would benefit from the experiences of projects like iHAC/iVOPD, which in turn would contribute to the development of health care and social care services in SPAs of the Nordic Region – with a focus on distance spanning solutions, integration of health and social care services, and recruitment and skills supply. This working paper aims to shed light on the following project objectives: What components, stakeholders, and visions could constitute a WIiSPA; what elements are necessary for creating a WIiSPA? (Definition of WIiSPA) Identifying existing and potential WIiSPA clusters in the Nordic countries and beyond; their prerequisites, strengths, and eventual lack of components for creating a WIiSPA (Mapping of WIiSPA) How could a network of identified WIiSPA clusters best be developed? (WIiSPA network) The results of this working paper are based on academic research, short interviews, and roundtable discussions. The material includes academic articles, information from websites and notes from discussions with local stakeholders. The concept…
Nordic economic policy review 2022
This issue of the Nordic economic policy review surveys the economic repercussions of the pandemic and the health and economic policies introduced to minimise its impact in the Nordic countries. Although national policies were broadly similar, they also differed in many respects. Given that some enjoyed greater success than others, comparing different policies and their effects may yield valuable lessons for the future. The Nordic countries weathered the COVID-19 pandemic relatively well compared to most other high-income countries, both in terms of public health and economic repercussions. Infection and excess mortality rates were comparatively low in the Nordic Region, except in Sweden, where they relied more on recommendations and guidelines than mandatory measures to contain the spread of the virus. The fall in GDP was also comparatively small and short-lived in all of the countries except Iceland, where tourism plays a more prominent role in the economy. In this review, we present a broad range of policy-relevant articles on a variety of issues. Two of the articles comparing economic policies and outcomes include countries from outside the Nordic Region. The article by Torben Andersen, Steinar Holden, and Seppo Honkapohja focuses on the macroeconomy. The one by Werner Eichhorst and Johannes Brunner focuses on the labour market.
Indicators for active and healthy ageing in the Nordic Region
Population ageing is a major demographic trend affecting the policy agenda in the Nordic Region, in Europe, and globally. The report Indicators for Active and Healthy Ageing in the Nordic Region focuses on indicators for active and healthy ageing and on welfare technology for older adults in the Nordic Region. The aim of the report is to study what types of relevant indicators for both active and healthy ageing and welfare technology for older adults currently exist in the Nordic Region. The study also looks at how these indicators are used to support and monitor policy initiatives. The purpose of the study is to establish a comparative perspective not only on what indicators are available for policymakers, but also on what indicators are not available. The report presents existing international and European indicators and a list of common Nordic indicators. The study also highlights challenges and future needs for improvement regarding Nordic indicators by presenting a set of recommendations aimed at strengthening the availability of statistical indicators, improving their usage, tackling the shortcomings found, and filling the knowledge gaps. This report is part of the Nordic Welfare Centre’s project Age-friendly and sustainable societies in the Nordic region, aiming to promote activity and health among Nordic senior citizens. The main outputs are two research reports. This one is titled Indicators for Active and Healthy Ageing in the Nordic Region: possibilities and challenges and another one is Active and Healthy Ageing: Heterogeneous perspective and Nordic indicators. Both of them were presented at Nordregio´s and Nordic Welfare Centre´s launch webinar “Grasping the diversity among older adults” on 6 April 2022. Read an article about it here.
Executive Summary – Who is left behind? The impact of place on the ability to follow Covid-19 restrictions
While the Nordic countries have long been champions of equality, the Covid-19 pandemic has put a new light on structural injustices inherent in our societies. In Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Malmö, districts with a high share of residents with an immigrant background and a low socio-economic status stand out with high infection and mortality rates of Covid-19. The pandemic thus reveals and reminds us about the serious effects of segregation and unequal living conditions on citizens’ health status and ability to cope with and survive a pandemic. This Executive Summary is based on a quantitative and qualitative study. “Who is left behind? The impact of place on the ability to follow Covid-19 restrictions” aiming to identify structural barriers impacting residents’ ability to follow Covid-19 recommendations and guidelines, especially in low-income areas in major Nordic cities. Learning about these barriers – and effective measures taken to mitigate them – will help Nordic authorities and communities be better prepared for future challenges and crises. Read full publication “Who is left behind? The impact of place on the possibility to follow Covid-19 restrictions” here. Recording from 11 May webinar will soon be available on Nordregio’s youtube channel.
Who is left behind? The impact of place on the possibility to follow Covid-19 restrictions
While the Nordic countries have long been champions of equality, the Covid-19 pandemic has put a new light on societal structural injustices inherent in our societies. The pandemic thus reveals and reminds us about the serious effects of segregation and unequal societies, and necessitates a closer look at the potential injustice involved. This study aims to identify structural barriers involved in following recommendations from Public Health Authorities during the pandemic, especially in socio-economically vulnerable, low-income districts. Learning about these circumstances will help Nordic societies be better prepared for future challenges and crises. Through the quantitative mapping of city district level in Oslo, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Malmö, we aimed to outline relevant indicators relating to the increased risk of Covid-19 infection. Included indicators are annual income, share of residents with foreign background, share of inhabitants working in exposed occupations, and overcrowded housing conditions. Stockholm and Malmö were selected for an in-depth study on the sub-district level with more indicators, such as household sizes, educational level, car ownership, and spatial density. To deepen the understanding of the conditions impacting possibilities to follow public recommendations for persons living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, semi-structured interviews were conducted in Rinkeby-Kista, Stockholm and Rosengård, Malmö. These two subdistricts were selected because they share similar socio-economic characteristics, have a high share of the immigrant population, and have been disproportionately affected by the virus. Read the Executive Summary “Who is left behind? The impact of place on the ability to follow Covid-19 restrictions” here. Find project page here. Recording from 11 May webinar will soon be available on Nordregio’s youtube channel.
State of the Nordic Region 2020 -Wellbeing, health and digitalisation
This Special Edition aims to complement State of the Nordic Region 2020 by taking an in-depth look at some of the factors that contribute to wellbeing and health in the Nordic Region, and exploring how digitalisation in health care and social care can contribute to wellbeing. The theme of the report connects to the Nordic vision to become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world. This will be achieved by, among other things, promoting a socially sustainable Nordic Region which is inclusive, equal and interconnected with shared values and strengthened cultural exchange and welfare. National statistics and international comparisons provide an overview of how the countries are performing on different indicators relating tohealth and wellbeing. In order to learn more about wellbeing in different parts of the Nordic Region, we have also zoomed in on the regional and local levels. The report illustrates the central role of demography, whereby the composition and the spatial patterns of the population together with socioeconomic factors contribute to shaping the living conditions and wellbeing in different parts of the Nordic Region. Although life expectancy is increasing, the loss of healthy years due to non-communicable diseases and poor health-related behaviours remain obstacles to further improvement of health and wellbeing. Socio-economic factors such as education, employment and income have important roles to play as regards health and well being. Despite a general pattern of urban regions being richer, more well educated and living longer, we also find many thriving rural areas attracting new young residents. Digital infrastructure plays a crucial role in the development of those rural areas, and digitalisation in health care and social care also holds a promise of increasing equal accessibility to welfare services in rural and remote areas. A prerequisite for this is however to secure internet access to all…
Recruitment and retention in the welfare sector: Nordic good practice
The Nordic welfare sector is facing significant challenges when it comes to providing effective social care services. While the demand for services for a rapidly growing elderly population is constantly increasing, the workforce delivering social care services is shrinking, with many workers reaching retirement age. Tackling the challenges related to recruitment and retention of qualified staff – and developing innovative approaches to the delivery of social care services – is becoming increasingly urgent, particularly in rural and sparsely populated areas (SPAs). This policy brief gives an overview of examples across the Nordic Region aimed at tackling these resource challenges and exploring innovative ways of organising and delivering social care services in rural areas and SPAs. It is based on a desk study funded by Nordic Welfare Centre (see more about this on the last page).
Policy brief – Public service delivery in the Nordic Region: An exercise in collaborative governance
Now, more than ever, is Nordic collaboration required across all levels of governance to help overcome the devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and to solve the shared challenges posed by climate change and growing urban-rural divides. This policy brief examines six good practice examples of collaborative public service delivery from across the Nordic Region, highlighting the main drivers, challenges and enablers of collaboration and the replication potential of these Nordic collaborative examples. The policy brief finds that new and innovative models of Nordic collaboration are constantly emerging thanks to rapid technological developments that are helping to bring stakeholders together to solve common societal challenges. The high levels of cooperation outlined indicate that collaborative governance is continually evolving within the Nordic context.
Public service delivery in the Nordic Region: An exercise in collaborative governance
Nordic welfare states are world renowned for providing high quality public services. Nordic municipal and regional authorities, in particular, play a central role in the delivery of key public services in areas, such as, health, education, and social care. However, in recent years, public authorities have faced several challenges which have reduced capacity and resources, including long periods of austerity following the 2008 financial crash, rapid demographic changes caused by an ageing population, and the COVID-19 health crisis. In response to these challenges many public authorities have looked to inter-regional, inter-municipal and cross-border collaborations to improve the quality and effectiveness of public service delivery (OECD 2017; ESPON 2019). Indeed, collaborative public service delivery is becoming increasingly prominent in the Nordic Region due to a highly decentralized systems of governance (Nordregio 20015; Eythorsson 2018). This report highlights six best practice examples of collaborative public service delivery from across the Nordic Region, with a main geographical focus on remote rural areas. Nordic policymakers and other stakeholders can learn from a wide variety of experiences, which can inspire others to engage in collaborative governance initiatives. The report highlights the main drivers, challenges, enablers, benefits and replication potentials of Nordic collaboration. Lessons are drawn from both local community initiatives, inter-municipal, inter-regional and cross-border collaborations. Thematically, case studies cover key areas of public service provision, including healthcare, welfare/social care, education and transport. The report finds that Nordic collaboration between different levels of governance remains strong despite the disruptions caused by the current pandemic. New and innovative models of collaboration are constantly emerging thanks to technological developments that are helping to bring stakeholders together to solve common societal challenges. The high levels of cooperation outlined in this report indicate that collaborative governance is continually evolving within the Nordic context.