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Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin requests reports on care services for the elderly in Espoo

Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin has asked the Espoo Social and Health Services Board for a report on several matters relating to care services for the elderly. Observations made last summer prompted the request.

In the course of three days last July, the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman conducted unannounced inspections of ten institutions and care homes that provide round-the-clock long-term care for elderly persons in Espoo. Three of them were care units owned by Espoo itself and seven were private units that provide purchased services.

The focus of evaluation during the inspections was the content and quality of the long-term care arranged by the City of Espoo for especially elderly persons with impaired memory. Special attention was paid to the opportunities of the old people to get outdoor exercise and transact their affairs as well as to the homeliness of the care units.

The basis for the evaluation was a set of quality recommendations on arranging services for the elderly issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in 2008.

Sufficient outdoor exercise

It was observed during the inspections that, although attention had been paid to facilitating outdoor exercise for the elderly, the amount of it depended clearly on the personnel strength. Only a few persons were outdoors during the inspections. Espoo will have to examine how it can ensure adequate outdoor exercise opportunities for elderly persons.

Also requested was a report explaining what way the elderly persons' right to maintain and promote social relations and participation rights are being taken care of.

Espoo must also provide a report on how it is monitoring implementation of the quality recommendations for long-term care and especially those concerning staffing levels. 

Safeguarding privacy

The observations made during the inspections revealed that in the City?s own units several elderly people shared cramped, hospital-type rooms, but nearly all of those in the private units had their own rooms, which they had mainly furnished themselves.

Espoo must also explain to the Deputy-Ombudsman what measures it is taking to ensure that elderly residents of its own care homes can live in rooms where privacy has been taken better into consideration.

Shortcomings in physiotherapy services

Espoo must also report how it intends to arrange the rehabilitation services that elderly people need. It was noted during the inspections that physiotherapy services were not arranged at all in some units and that they had been scaled back in the City's own homes.

The Deputy-Ombudsman also intervened in relation to the right of a terminally ill patient to receive care that respects their dignity and privacy.

Additional info will be provided by Legal Adviser Pirkko Äijälä-Roudasmaa, tel. +358 (0)9 4321.