Monday, 18 February, 2019

Bindings for nursing home staffing get Kokoomus backing

06 Feb 2019, 00:56 ( 12 days ago) | updated: 06 Feb 2019, 01:22 ( 12 days ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Photo Source: VisitFinland.

The chances of a fast improvement in the care quality in Finnish nursing homes for seniors improved on Tuesday as the Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party-NCP)  dropped its opposition to a legally binding increase in staffing.

The crisis began two weeks ago when authorities closed a care unit of the commercial Esperi Care in western Finland for appalling conditions. The news was followed by media revelations about neglect of customers elsewhere.

Political observers said the situation had become intolerable for the pro-business Kokoomus as the other two coalition parties -- the Suomen Keskusta (Centre Party) and the Sininen Tulevaisuus (Blue Reform) -- had switched to backing opposition demands.

The Keskusta minister Annika Saarikko said on Tuesday the turnaround by the Kokoomus chairman and Finance Minister Petteri Orpo was a surprise. Saarikko said her ministry would immediately start preparations for legal amendments.

In a parallel development, the whole opposition on Tuesday presented a parliamentary draft bill based on the requirement of seven care staffers per each ten customers in assisted living.

There is no binding ratio now, but a recommendation of five. They also would backtrack the weakening of professional requirements enacted by the current government early in its tenure.

Opinions differ, however, whether parliament could pass changes before the election break starting in March.

In Finland, municipalities either maintain their own facilities for senior care or purchase the service from the commercial sector.

Families have no binding requirement to take care of their seniors. But if they want to, a modest fee would be paid. Self paying customers in senior care units are very few, due to the high cost.