Services and support for people with disabilities
The principles of Finnish policy concerning people with disabilities are the rights to
- the necessary services and support
Public services and a barrier-free environment are designed for everyone. When general services prove insufficient, special ones are arranged - such as services concerning housing, assistive devices, transport and interpretation.
The aim is to support the working and functional capacity of people with disabilities and their individual autonomy. Municipally organised services and support enable people with disabilities to cope with every-day life.
The MSAH is responsible for is responsible for promoting the welfare and health of people with disabilities, developing social and health services and income security.
Disability services are stipulated by
- the Social Welfare Act 1301/2014 (Finlex)
- the Disability Services Act 380/1987 (Finlex) (in Finnish) and
- the law on Intellectual Disabilities 519/1977 (Finlex) (in Finnish)
The MSAH strategy for social and health policy and the Government Programme emphasise the need to
- continue to reform disability legislation to make it a part of overall social care legislation
- guarantee the coverage of personal assistance for people with disabilities and increase the availability of home services
- continue with the structural reform of care for people with intellectual disability
- review the situation of assistive devices for people with disabilities and evaluate the context of the invalidity deduction in the taxation system.
The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) promotes research and development on the independent living of people with disabilities and barrier-free planning, as well as on various services, such as personal assistant, housing, and assistive devices. THL also keeps statistics on disability issues.
The National Supervisory Authority on Welfare and Health (Valvira) and Regional State Administrative Agencies supervise service provision and quality.
The National Council on Disability (VANE) promotes the rights of people with disabilities and cooperation between disability organisations and the authorities.
Municipalities responsible for carrying out services
Disability services are mainly the responsibility of municipalities in Finland. People with disabilities are provided with a personal service plan on the services and support they require. These include the following:
Assistive devices are available from health centres or by referral from the assistive device units of health care districts.
Assistive device services include instruction on use, renewal and maintenance. The services are free of charge.
Assistive devices for use to help with social life and recreation are also available as a disability service from social welfare departments.
People with severe disabilities are reimbursed for renovations made to their home and for devices installed in the home, as well as for the costs of acquiring devices and equipment.
Municipalities reimburse a person with disabilities for wages paid to a personal assistant. The disabled individual, or his or her guardian or carer, act as the employer of the personal assistant.
Special services for people with intellectual disabilities
Special care services arranged for people with intellectual disabilities include:
- housing services
- work and day activities
- family care or
- institutional care
Municipalities arrange free transportation services for work, study, running errands, social participation and recreation.
Health centres and hospitals are in charge of arranging statutory rehabilitation for people with disabilities.
Support for informal care
The help and care a person with disabilities needs can be arranged using informal care.
Service accommodation and institutional care
Service accommodation in Finland is arranged for people with severe disabilities, who need regular assistance in daily matters at certain times throughout the day. Institutional care guarantees that a person received continual round-the-clock care.
Family care is round-the-clock care in a private home. As a disability service it is in particular organised as a service for handicapped people.
Adaptation and rehabilitation guidance
Adaptation training helps people with disabilities adjust to and to live with their disability. Rehabilitation guidance helps people with disabilities to apply for and receive services in society.
Disability benefit helps people with disabilities to take part in working life or to study, and to maintain their working capacity, living at home, rehabilitation and treatment.
People with severe hearing, hearing and sight, and speech disabilities are entitled to receive free interpretation services.
Activities to support employment are arranged for people with disabilities, as well as rehabilitative work activities to help maintain working capacity.