Press releases

Older people living at home do not always receive the services they need from municipalities

A survey commissioned by the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Human Rights Centre shows that nearly 75% of people over the age of 69 living at home rely on the assistance of their relatives. The role of family and friends is emphasised particularly in helping with moving outside of the home, where the share of public service and voluntary activities was low. More than one quarter of home care clients also have to use municipal services in addition to self-paid services, such as cleaning and housekeeping services.

The biggest disparity between the need for and availability of services lies in various services that maintain functional capacity, such as support for mental well-being, home services of physiotherapists and occupational therapists, day and service centre activities and foot care. It is also felt that more advice and information on services and transport are needed.

The use of home care services has increased

The respondents’ use of all home care services increased during the coronavirus pandemic in comparison to the time before the pandemic. On the other hand, the use of all other social welfare and healthcare services decreased. The greatest decrease was in the use of medical services at the health centre, oral healthcare, and rehabilitation and assistive devices. Municipalities had offered less than a fifth of the respondents assistance with shopping, for example, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The results of the study help in targeting oversight of legality

The surveys revealed important information on the need for and availability of services, which is utilised in the oversight of legality. Based on the results of the study, the oversight of legality is targeted at shortcomings in home care services that older people have identified. The aim of the Deputy-Ombudsman is to determine how municipalities provide services to prevent loneliness, maintain functional capacity and rehabilitation of older persons as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

- In my oversight of legality, I assess in particular how the rights of those who do not have close relatives are realised. It is also important to monitor how well the support of close relatives has succeeded, says Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin.
The results of the survey will be utilised by the HRC in promoting the fundamental and human rights of older people in the monitoring and reporting related to rights, both in Finland and in the processes of international supervisory bodies. They will also be taken into account in the follow-up to the project on self-determination of older people and the project on councils for older people and, for example, in training.

In early 2021, the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Human Rights Centre commissioned a survey with Taloustutkimus Oy on how people aged 70 years or over who live at home have access to services and their service needs. The survey interviewed 1,504 people aged 70 or over by telephone. In addition, an online panel survey aimed at the relatives of older persons surveyed their assessment of their parents’ service needs and use of the services (1,654 respondents). A similar survey was last conducted in 2017.

The 2021 survey has been published (in Finnish) on the Ombudsman’s website.

For more information: Johanna Koli, Senior legal Advisor (Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman), tel. +358 9 432 3389 and Sanna Ahola, Expert (Human Rights Centre), tel. +358 9 432 3783.