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Ministerial group: Reform of the Act on Care Services for Older Persons to begin during this government term

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 12.2.2019 18.32 | Published in English on 13.2.2019 at 16.36
Press release 26/2019

In its meeting on Tuesday 12 February, the ministerial working group for health and wellbeing discussed the current status of care services for the elderly. The ministerial working group decided to start its work on the reform of the Act on Care Services for Older Persons during this government term.

The work will cover all care services provided for the elderly. A working group consisting of public servants will be appointed to prepare proposals for legislative amendments, including an impact assessment, by the end of 2019. 

The working group will review and discuss several thematic areas, such as:

  1. Prevention: preventive services designed to maintain the functional ability of the elderly.
  2. Number of personnel, competence, resource allocation, and the need for skilled personnel when home care and informal care are also included in the needs assessment.
  3. Mechanisms needed to ensure the quality of care, such as care quality indicators and regulation concerning operational supervision.
  4. Service needs assessment, including a nationally comparable indicator for the assessment and supervision of care and service needs.
  5. Identifying and removing overlaps between the Act on Care Services for Older Persons and the Social Welfare Act.

– “The recent public discussion has revealed alarming facts about the current status of elderly care in Finland. In some care facilities, the treatment of older people does not meet the values specified for such operations, and our trust in elderly care services is being eroded. This is a serious matter. Public discussion regarding various shortcomings has led to a general understanding of the need for decisive steps to establish consistent practices and solutions in elderly care services. Ensuring a sufficient number of care providers is one of the key issues,” says Annika Saarikko, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services.

The wellbeing and overall situation of the elderly is the result of many factors, therefore simply changing one aspect will not resolve such a complex issue. The ministerial group feels that what is now called for is broad-based preparatory work by public servants from multiple administrative sectors, and consultation with elderly people themselves and with their families to ensure that all the different aspects of services, health and wellbeing, such as competence, sufficient numbers of personnel, housing solutions, management, procurement and supervision, are adequately taken into consideration.

More resources are needed for supervision, and they will be allocated in the next supplementary budget.

– “Additional resources are a necessity, but we also need better management, better self-supervision, procurement competence, and reliable data on the quality of care. We also need consistent tools and indicators.  Good quality care is provided in cooperation with families,” says Pirkko Mattila, Minister of Social Affairs and Health.

– “The cases of neglect in elderly care that have come to light recently are intolerable and inexcusable. It is clear that a reform of the Act on Care Services for Older Persons is now required to impose stricter obligations on care providers. An adequate number of competent personnel must be ensured to guarantee that our elderly people are always cared for and in safe hands,” says Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Minister of Education and Culture.

The preparatory work that is now about to begin will benefit from several previous assessments of the implementation of the Act on Care Services for Older Persons. The working group will also look into the roles of different authorities and the cooperation between them.

The working group will take into consideration work that has already been conducted under the framework of an ageing strategy, which examines different ageing-related factors over the longer term, and beyond social welfare and health care services. The ministerial group also decided that in addition to the legislative drafting work, quality recommendations for elderly care services for 2020-2023 will be updated.

In the ministerial group’s meeting, Markus Henriksson, Director General of the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, provided an overview of the quality and supervision of elderly care services.

Inquiries:

Tuija Kumpulainen, Director-General, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 280
Satu Karppanen, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 549
Elina Das Bhowmik, Special Adviser to the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, tel. +358 40 548 90

Annika Saarikko Pirkko Mattila Sanni Grahn-Laasonen