Home care services are wrestling with deep problems. The population is aging, and the number of home care customers is increasing. Approximately 200 000 individuals received home care in Finland in 2019. The condition of elderly people in home care is getting worse and many are not able to manage their daily chores without outside help. Due to COVID-19, seniors have been asked to isolate themselves in their homes without being able to get as much help from their close ones as they would in a world without the pandemic.
Furthermore, the lack of resources regarding the nursing staff is unbearable. This is emphasized by the experience nurses are reporting – the workload is extremely large and exhausting. Therefore, I am not surprised that we are constantly reading news about seniors forgotten in their homes, how vital medicines have been left undistributed, and about increased number of overall complaints to the authorities.
The problem in our home care services is a cautionary example about a situation where we can end up if we do not make timely and determined decisions. When we in the Coalition Party’s alternative budget proposed an additional investment of 50 million euros in home care for the elderly, the current government responded with a shrug. With the additional investment in question, we would have been able to hire a thousand more nurses.
Elderly people in home care, their relatives, and home care workers have been waiting for too long to obtain solutions to these problems. In the Coalition Party, we have persistently urged the government for an overall reform of the services for the elderly, so that the elderly would not be left waiting for reforms concerning them. However, the current government has shown its order of priority. The planned legislation will not be completed for at least two more years from now.
In addition, the government must also ensure that the care-sector remains attractive as a career choice. The work must receive the credit and prestige it truly deserves.
In my opinion, every elderly person deserves adequate security, care, and valued years of elderly age. It does not fit in my sense of justice that those who have paid their taxes for years are the ones who are left out to dry during times when they need help the most. It is important that as many seniors as possible can live in the comfort of their own homes if it is the most comprehensive and safest solution for them.
Now is the time to take the discussed matters and create concrete action on these issues. Especially during these difficult times, we need to take care of each other. Regardless of the age.
Pia Liisa Kauma is a Finnish politician who serves a member of the City Council of Espoo, representing the National Coalition Party. She has been a Member of Parliament since 2017.
This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of The Finnish Parliament contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times.
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