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Gov't introducing binding eldercare staffing requirement

Implementing the minimum caregiver quota would require hiring around 4,400 new personnel at eldercare facilities.

Vanhus pitää toista kädestä.
The Finnish government wants a binding legal minimum quota for caregivers at old-age institutions. Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

The Finnish government is to present parliament with a bill on Thursday setting the minimum nursing quota for round-the-clock care at old-age institutions at seven caregivers for each 10 residents. In government terminology this is being expressed as a rate of 0.7 caregivers per patient.

Binding quotas have been a subject of debate for the past decade. The Social Democratic Party in particular has pressed for making care quotas a legal requirement rather than an official recommendation.

At present the recommended quota used by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to determine a minimum standard of care quality is 0.5, which is one nurse for every two residents.

Ministry money

The upgraded care requirement is estimated to come with a 200 million euro price tag for the term in office of the present coalition.

Reportedly, around 70 million of the needed funding has already been earmarked in cabinet talks, and according to information received by Yle the remainder will come out of the budget of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The Ministry expects to be able to transfer funds saved by more efficient pharmaceutical services, and expanded use of generic drugs.

Revisions to healthcare service purchase agreements are expected to free up some of the funds needed to hire more caregivers. Plans also call for savings through the more efficient use of digital technologies in healthcare.

Details of the full financing the new eldercare staffing requirement are to be worked out in general government budget negotiations in early April.

Implementing the 7-to-10 ratio will require the hiring of around 4,400 new personnel at eldercare facilities.

If passed, the government's bill will allow for a transitional period and not require full compliance with the new care staff quota until the end of March 2023.

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