According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare's (THL) Status of Services for Older Persons Survey, a further 3,400 carers are needed for 24-hour care units in order for them to reach the statutory carer ratio by next spring.

The statutory carer ratio will increase gradually, and by April 2023 it will be 0.7 carers per client.

At the start of 2022, it increased to 0.6. According to THL’s figures, 89 per cent of the units had reached this level by May. In the previous monitoring results, from November 2021, 71 per cent of units had reached 0.6 carers per client.

"The increase in carers per client has been achieved by recruiting 900 care assistants for 24-hour care units and by increasing the share of direct care work carried out by existing nurses and practical nurses. The actual number of nurses and practical nurses did not increase at all during the year," explains Chief Specialist Sari Kehusmaa from THL.

In May 2022, the average number of older people in 24-hour care stood at 51,000. The figures indicate that the number of clients had remained constant over the previous year.

Additional time is needed to increase the carer ratio

According to THL, the attempts to recruit thousands of extra workers for 24-hour care and home care are not succeeding. The units reported last May that efforts to recruit 3,500 permanent social welfare and health care professionals over the previous six months had failed because of a lack of trained workers. The number of unsuccessful recruitments increased by more than 1,000 over that period.

"Based on our monitoring work, we can say that more time is need for increasing the ratio to 0.7, as the recruitment of nurses and practical nurses in particular has not been successful. At least one extra year must be provided so that the availability of carers can be improved by measures such as providing additional study places", Kehusmaa adds.

Of greater impact than the increase in the statutory number of carers, however, is the rapidly increasing number of older people in Finland. Services for older people are used most by people aged 80 and above, of whom 10% are currently in 24-hour care and 23% receive regular home care services. The number of people aged 80 or over is expected to increase by 116,000 by 2030.

"Based on the demographic structure and the forecast increase in client numbers, many thousand more carers will be needed in the coming years in both 24-hour care and home care," notes Chief Researcher Hanna Alastalo from THL.


Source: THL