Recognised by the Zero Project as an Innovative Policy on Independent Living in 2015, Sweden’s Personal Ombudsmen System, established in 2000, provides a nationwide system of guardians who support decision-making for persons with severe mental or psychosocial disabilities. Personal Ombudsmen (POs) are highly skilled persons who conduct outreach work and establish trusting relationships with individuals in need of support. They assist individuals in taking control of their own situation, identify care needs, and ensure that these individuals receive the necessary help.
Guardianship, hospitalisation, institutionalisation, powerlessness, isolation, drug addiction, homelessness, suicide, and violence are among the negative situations and conditions that the Swedish system of Personal Ombudsman helps to prevent – proving to be a true ‘change-maker’ in the lives of many persons with disabilities.
An internal study conducted by Sweden in 2005, reported that the scheme is highly effective in socioeconomic terms since individuals with PO support require less care and their psychosocial situation improves. As a result, the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) have deemed the policy so effective that not only has the position been promoted as a new social profession, but as also in 2013, a new regulation entered into force that established permanent funding for the PO system.