Between Power and Empowerment: Trust and Dependence as a Legal Strategy in Swedish Elderly Care

  • Ann-Christine Petersson Hjelm
Keywords: Elderly Care, Empowerment, Trust and Dependence Concept, New Public Management, the National Fundamental Values in Elderly Care


In this article, Ann-Christine Petersson Hjelm argues that the elderly care system in Sweden rests on what is described as a trust and dependence concept. In particular, it is discussed whether and in what way the interplay between trust and dependence is expressed in government committees and official documents. Interplay implies a correlation between social services personnel (trust) and the elderly (dependence). It is further stressed that the concept is a necessity, and that the impact of power – in terms of an instrument for management control – is a precondition for the elderly care system to work. It is argued that in the absence of indicative regulations, a built-in power strategy to create trust becomes necessary for the personnel. Petersson Hjelm also discuss power in terms of the elderly becoming empowered in relation to the exercise of public authority, activities or functions in elderly care by the personnel.