Minimum staffing levels in care homes has been detriment to seniors
In future, provisions on a minimum staffing level in units for service housing with 24-hour assistance and for long-term institutional care for older people will be laid down by law. Until now, quality recommendations have been used to determine the staffing levels. After the transition period, units will be required to have at least 0.7 employees per client.
The President of the Republic approved the Act amending the Act on Care Services for Older Persons (980/2012) on 9 July 2020. The Act will enter into force on 1 October 2020.
In the minimum staffing level, account is taken of the personnel working directly with clients. Indirect work, i.e. support services, is not taken into account. Separate resources must be reserved for support services. This is to ensure that units have a sufficient number of personnel who see to the care and treatment of older people so that the units’ duties can be performed diligently.
A uniform monitoring and assessment system helps to obtain comparable information
The amended Act also includes a provision on a nationally uniform monitoring and assessment system that can be used to establish and assess the need for services. The Resident Assessment Instruments (RAI) will harmonise the assessment of service needs and help develop the quality of services.
Municipalities must use the RAI instruments to assess the functional capacity of older people if these people need social services on a regular basis. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare must see to it that municipalities have free access to the RAI instruments and they are provided with training on how to use the instruments.
Transition period for minimum staffing level
The staffing level will rise gradually. When the Act enters into force on 1 October 2020, the staffing level must be at least 0.5 employees per client. From the beginning of 2021, the staffing level must be at least 0.55 employees per client, and from the beginning of 2022, at least 0.6 employees per client.
The transition period will end on 1 April 2023 when the minimum staffing level of 0.7 employees per client must be applied in full. Once the transition period is over, municipalities will also be obliged to use the RAI assessment system.