Gina Hästner is a health care student from Sweden who traveled to London with the Internship Programme earlier this year. Her placement at a nursery home for the mentally ill inspired her to explore the practices she encountered in the British homes from a Swedish perspective.

Photo: Gina Hästner

Photo: Gina Hästner

I am studying health and social care at a college in Sweden and traveled to London for work experience in the same industry. Shadowing staff at a nursery home for the mentally ill, I learnt more about their routines and the differences between the Swedish and UK health care systems. 

In Sweden, many care homes serve food cooked by external providers. In the UK, the food is homemade and many care homes have their own chef, which I believe is a really good and important thing.   

Patient activities are a must in the UK. Every day patients and residents take part in an activity of some kind. Some care homes have an activity organiser who manages and conducts all activities with the patients. One organiser I spoke to during my experience said that she had the best job in the world. The activities are very important for the elderly, since it helps them regain lost skills. Some of her patients have started to write again.  Even if it’s sometimes difficult to inspire them to participate, she said she always find a way, because she doesn't want to give up on them.  

Sweden has a well-functioning health care system, but unfortunately it's run differently from county to county. When it comes to activities, I think Sweden has something to learn from the UK. 

Many British care homes are private, with only a few run by the NHS (National Health Service). The private care homes are more expensive and the residents have pay for it from their savings or pension.   

Residents paid about £1000 per week to live in the privately owned care home I visited. That includes food, activities and 24 hours of care. Although the health care is not free, the staff are very concerned about the residents and the care they give. Since it's where people stay during the final stages of life, there is palliative care too.   

The building itself is nice and old with rooms that the patient can furnish with their own things. I think it’s important to live in a place that is homely and which you can decorate yourself, especially if the patient has dementia.  

In the UK there are special homes for those with mental health problems. In the nursing homes where I have worked in Sweden, the mentally ill and the elderly live in the same place. I believe it’s important to separate them because they have very different diagnoses and illnesses, so conflicts and misunderstandings are more likely to arise.  

There are many differences between the two countries when it comes to the care of elderly people. One question I ask myself is; which one provides the best care? To summarise, I think both countries have a lot to learn from each other. That's why projects like Erasmus+ are so useful. Comparing the two worlds will definitely help me in my future professional life.

Gina visited London through our Internship Programme, a project eligible for funding from Erasmus+. Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about what we do and how to apply for a grant. Call a Country Manager today on +44 2084249424 or send us a message.