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Shortcomings in relation to access to information for relatives involved in the care of elderly persons

The Deputy Ombudsman Maija Sakslin’s decision concerned the possibility of allowing relatives of elderly people with memory disorders to follow the everyday care of the elderly person via the entries made in a “message notebook” by the home care staff.

The Deputy Ombudsman stated that the principal purpose of the notebook or equivalent is to serve as a means of communication between relatives and care staff. The entries describe for example the home care client's current situation in life, or events on that day specifically, which may have an effect on what services and support the home care client needs. The provision of such information to and from the care staff is particularly important when several different employees, with no previous familiarity with the client’s situation and whom the client does not know, make home visits to the client each day. In such a case, the communication of messages is necessary for the implementation of high-quality and good care. 

The Deputy Ombudsman stated that relatives involved in the care of the client have not had the possibility to receive information. Disclosure of information to relatives is at the discretion of the authority, when the recipient of the services is unable to participate in their arrangement due to an illness, mental incapacity or another, similar reason.

Deputy Ombudsman Sakslin regarded the lack of legislation on the issue as a serious flaw, because this may jeopardise the arrangement of the necessary care for social welfare clients who are in a vulnerable position. For this reason, the Deputy Ombudsman sent her decision to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, to be taken into account when drafting the new Act on the Status and Rights of Social Welfare Clients and Patients.

Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin’s decision  EOAK/263/2017 is available in Finnish on the Ombudsman’s website www.oikeusasiamies.fi/en

For more information, please contact Principal Legal Adviser Tapio Räty, tel. + 358 9 432 3379.