Rights of the elderly

The parliamentary ombudsman supervises the rights of the elderly

The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s duty is to promote the rights of the elderly people.

Safeguarding the rights of the elderly is a part of the overall protection, monitoring and promotion of fundamental and human rights. The goal on the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s task is to oversee that the fundamental and human rights of the elderly and their human dignity throughout their lives are respected.

On the basis of the decisions issued on complaints and the inspections conducted by the  Ombudsman, every year the Ombudsman expresses his or her opinion on numerous issues concerning the rights of the elderly. The public authorities and private entities performing a public task are required to be familiar with and take into account the decisions of the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman also has special tasks based on international conventions supporting the supervision and promotion of the rights of the elderly. For example, the Ombudsman acting  as the National Preventive Mechanism in accordance with the UN Convention, monitors the living conditions and treatment of elderly persons with memory disorders.

Good treatment in elderly care

As people get older, they face new challenges that affect elderly people, their relatives and all those nearest and dearest. As people age, they may become more dependent on others. In such cases, elderly people are in a vulnerable position, and special attention should be paid to the way they are treated.

Your rights are upheld when:

  •     you are entitled to make decisions and your will is respected
  •     people listen to you and you can participate in decision making concerning your interests
  •     people ask you what do you want, even if it is hard for you to express yourself
  •     you are treated equally
  •     you receive help and support when you need it
  •     you receive services and care as required by law


Which parties supervise social welfare and health care services for elderly people?

The service provider must ensure that it provides proper social welfare and health care services. Service providers may be municipalities, federations of municipalities and also private entities, such as companies, foundations and associations, if they provide services on assignment from the authorities. All of these parties must supervise their own operations.

Social welfare personnel must inform without delay the party responsible for organizing social welfare if they notice any irregularities or apparent threats of irregularities in the way that a customer is provided with social welfare services.

Each social welfare service provider must adopt a self-monitoring plan, which describes the nature and quality of its activities. The self-monitoring plan must be available in the operating units without separate request.

Municipalities are responsible for arranging elderly services for their residents. In addition, municipalities must supervise the elderly services arranged in their areas.

Regional State Administrative Agencies supervise the social welfare and health care services provided in their areas by municipalities or private entities.

The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) supervises social welfare and health care activities and mainly handles social welfare and health care matters that transcend several Regional State Administrative Agencies or are otherwise of importance in principle or far-reaching in nature.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman and Chancellor of Justice are the supreme overseers. They supervise the activities of the authorities and entities discharging public duties.

The Ombudsman does not supervise the practices of private-sector companies or entities  which do not discharge public duties. Private social welfare and health care service providers are considered to discharge public duties when they provide their services on assignment from the authorities in the form of an outsourced service or in exchange for service vouchers.


What to do if you feel that you have been treated unfairly

Social services

If you are dissatisfied with the social welfare services you have received, you are advised to bring up the matter with the service provider and address the situation immediately, wherever the problem has arisen.

Social welfare ombudsman

If you need outside assistance, you can contact the social welfare ombudsman. Every municipality has a designated social welfare ombudsman. This person is tasked with advising social welfare clients on questions and difficulties related to social welfare.

Objection

Social welfare clients are entitled to submit an objection to the person responsible for the social welfare operating unit or to the leading official in charge of municipal social welfare services. Objections are usually made in writing. The social welfare ombudsman can help you to make an objection if necessary.

Complaint

You can submit a written complaint to the Regional State Administrative Agency or Valvira if the social welfare authority has acted incorrectly. You can also complain to the Regional State Administrative Agency or Valvira about social welfare services arranged by private providers.

You can submit a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman or the Chancellor of Justice if the social welfare service is provided by an authority or a private entity on assignment from an authority.

Demand for rectification and appeal

If you are dissatisfied with a decision on social welfare issued by an authority, you can demand rectification in accordance with the appended appeal instructions. It is usually possible to appeal to the Administrative Court against a decision issued on a demand for rectification.

Health care activities

If you are dissatisfied with the health care services you have received, you should bring up the matter with the service provider and address the situation immediately, wherever the treatment was provided.

Patient ombudsman

Every health care operating unit has a patient ombudsman. The patient ombudsman is tasked with advising and assisting patients, as well as providing information on patients’ rights. The patient ombudsman works to uphold and advance the rights of patients.

Objection

If the discussions held at the point of care were not helpful, any patient who is dissatisfied with the care or related treatment is entitled to submit an objection to the manager responsible for health care at the point of care. Objections are usually made in writing. The patient ombudsman can help you to make an objection if necessary.

Complaint

Health care patients can complain about their care or care-related treatment to the health care supervisory authority, which is either the Regional State Administrative Agency or Valvira.

You can submit a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman or the Chancellor of Justice.

 

Which things can you complain about?

You can complain to the Ombudsman about cases related to the actions of the authorities concerning elderly services and care, as well as in other cases, for example:

  • you or your family members are treated inappropriately when contacting the authorities or receiving public services
  • you have not received enough information or advice
  • the services do not meet your needs
  • your need for services was not assessed when it should have been done
  • you have not received an appealable written decision concerning a service or benefit you applied for
  • the quality of home care or care in assisted living, at an old people’s home or in hospital is not good enough
  • your privacy was not respected
  • your opinion was overlooked on a matter that concerns you or you were not asked for your opinion
  • your mobility has been unduly restricted
  • the price of services is unclear