New legislation is scheduled to come into force early next year which is aimed at quality services for the elderly. It has been a matter of some debate, particularly the issue of whether or not the law as written will actually guarantee better services.
The Social Democratic Party's parliamentary group on Thursday gave its backing to a proposal demanding that the law be revised to include a minimum ratio of caregivers to residents in public facilities for the elderly. Soon afterwards, support for the move was heard from other quarters, including the Centre, the Finns Party, the Left Alliance and the Christian Democrats.
The Social Democratic group called on the government to include new funding for more employees in the budget that will be finalised later this month.
At present, the recommendation of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is a minimum of 0.5 caregivers per resident. However, so far that is only a recommendation.
According to Social Democratic Minister of Health and Social Services Maria Guzenina-Richardson, implementing the entire package of new measures on improved care for the elderly will cost 144 million euros a year, half of which will be paid by the state and the remainder by local governments. This would, under the latest proposal, include 28 million for hiring more caregivers and setting a mandated ratio of caregivers to residents.
Providing enough caregivers in public facilities will require annual increases in funding as the population ages.
In 2010, there were nearly 45,000 people resident in public old-age homes and in assisted living. That number was 4.5 percent up on the year before. Projections by Statistics Finland show the percentage of the population in Finland over the age of 65 rising from the present 17 to 27 percent by the year 2040.