Photo of Sara Wittberg

Sara Wittberg

PhD student

The focus of my research is on local political policies for needs assessment of elder care and Swedish municipalities’ varying prerequisites to provide for elder care.


I am a trained social worker with long-term experience as a care manager, assessing the needs of older people in different municipalities in Sweden. For several years I have also worked within the home care service which has contributed to a good understanding of both assessments and how decisions are carried out.

In my research, I combine an academic perspective with the practical understanding of a practitioner. The research aims to benefit social work practice, the public, and older individuals in need of services by shedding light on a relatively overlooked aspect of public welfare.. By bringing forth elements from political science to the field of social work research, my aim is to highlight the significance of local politics within the welfare system, and the potential consequences for older adults.


My research

My research is focused on the local provision of welfare services for older people in Sweden as a decentralised welfare state. More specifically, I study local interpretations of the national law (Social Service Act 2001:453) through the design of local guidelines for assessing and providing elder care services. I also study local policies for decision-making authority for elder care services in municipalities with varying local conditions and prerequisites for providing welfare.

My thesis project investigates how local politics is embedded within social work practice through local policies for legal decision-making authority about elder care. It further highlights how control is exercised through policies in order to restrict care managers’, as front line bureaucrats’, freedom to act and make decisions about the needs of older people. This raises questions about the professionals’ role and whether the limitations in the policies are random or systematic depending on the municipalities’ varying local conditions.