Access to social services for the elderly to be made easier and faster
The new draft Act on Care Services for the Elderly aims to have every elderly person view his or her life as being safe and meaningful, and having dignity. The basis for access to services will be the capabilities of the elderly person, rather than age in itself. The related Steering Group submitted the proposal to Minister of Health and Social Services Maria Guzenina-Richardson on Thursday 19 April.
The Act will apply to population members of pensionable age and aged persons whose capabilities, whether physical, cognitive, mental or social, have markedly weakened with age, due to the onset or worsening of a disease or a deterioration in condition.
The Steering Group also proposes that elderly persons be given the right to apply for services orally as well as in writing. In urgent cases, the authorities would have to make a decision on, and arrange, services without delay. Such decisions would also have to be taken flexibly in non-urgent cases. Where non-urgent services have been approved, an elderly person would have the right to receive the service within three months of the approval decision, at the latest. Granting services required by the elderly would be facilitated by the service need's clarification from a number of perspectives.
The objective is that the elderly will be given the possibility to maintain their capabilities, form social bonds and engage in stimulating activities. Institutional care will only be considered if absolutely necessary to providing the elderly person with a life of the appropriate safety and dignity.Municipalities must provide systematic support for the elderly
By council term, each municipality must draw up a plan on measures for promoting the wellbeing, health, capabilities and independent living of, as well as arranging and developing services required by, the elderly population. Such a plan should also include an assessment of service quality and sufficiency.
The draft Act emphasises the reinforcement of expertise. Municipalities must have a sufficient level of expertise on the following areas: the promotion of wellbeing and health, geriatric care and social work, geriatrics, safe medication, nutrition, rehabilitation and oral healthcare. Service units providing services for the aged must have sufficient staff, whose qualifications and duty structures match the number of elderly clients and the service need set by their capabilities.
The draft Act includes statutory powers. For example, by Government decree, regulations could be issued specifying the number of persons in service units, their expertise, the structure of their duties, and their leadership and self-monitoring, should any service quality problems persist despite the new law and informative guidance.The government proposal is scheduled to be submitted to Parliament in the autumn
The Government Programme includes the objective of preparing an Act on Care Services for the Elderly. The draft Act on supporting the capabilities of the elderly population, and on the related social and health services, was prepared by a Steering Group established by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
A hearing will be arranged on the draft Act and the draft will be circulated for comments. The aim is to present a proposal to Parliament in the autumn of 2012.Further information
Chairman of the Steering Group:
Permanent Secretary Kari Välimäki, tel. +358 (0)9 160 73763
Secretaries to the Steering Group:
Ministerial Counsellor, Social Affairs, Päivi Voutilainen, tel +358 (0)9 160 74135
Ministerial Counsellor, Legal Affairs, Riitta Kuusisto, tel. +358 (0)9 160 74360