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A new national framework for services for older people

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 13.2.2008 8.00
Press release -

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities have together published a new national framework for high-quality services for older people. The framework is a recommendation intended for the local authorities as an instrument for the development and assessment of the services they provide for older people. Furthermore, the recommendation incorporates ethical principles for the services.

It outlines the most important strategic sub-areas to improve the quality and effectiveness of services for older people. Those are promotion of wellbeing and health, development of the service structure, staffing, staff skills and management, and living and care environments.

The recommendation covers the services used by older people on a regular basis, such as home care, support for informal care, long-term care in units of intensified service housing and in institutions and, more generally, measures to promote the wellbeing and health of older people.

It also sets the national quantitative and qualitative targets for these services, on the basis of which the local authorities should define their own objectives taking into account the local needs.

The importance of actions to promote health and prevent illness is stressed. The living of older people in their own homes will be supported and service needs assessed individually. Advice and other preventive services will diversify the choice of services. Health, functional capacity and rehabilitation are supported in the context of all services.

The framework describes the criteria for staffing and gives recommendations for the minimum staffing levels in 24-hour care. Other important elements are enhancing the personnel’s wellbeing at work, development of gerontological skills and knowledge, and management skills.

Development of the quality of living and care environments of older people presupposes investments in accessibility, safety and amenities.

The recommendation includes monitoring indicators for measuring how the targets have been achieved in the different sub-areas both according to municipality and nationally.

Local authorities are responsible for services and their quality

The municipal authorities can provide the services themselves or purchase them from private or third-sector services providers. The authorities are responsible for the quality, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the services.

The recommendation emphasises the importance of partnerships between the public, private and third sector. It is also important to increase the municipal inhabitants’, clients’ and relatives’ opportunities to influence the services.

The aim is to restructure services and adjust operations

The restructuring of services that is defined as a goal in the recommendation will, once implemented, curb the expenditure on social and health care services. Besides structures, also the service processes have to be reformed.

The revised recommendation takes into account the strategies of the Government Programme, the national objectives of the policy on ageing, outcomes of the assessment of quality recommendations, the newest research findings, changes in the operating environment, and the ongoing restructuring of local government and services.


The population in Finland will be ageing rapidly in the next few decades. It would be difficult to curb expenditures without reforming the service structures and manners of service provision.

In recent years, the quality recommendations developed for various services have served as new instruments in guiding the development of welfare services at the national level. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities issued the first National framework for high-quality care and services for older people in 2001. In municipalities the framework has been considered a necessary and useful tool in the development of services for older people. It is however important to include assessment data as a part of the implementation of the recommendation.

An English translation of the national framework will be published in a couple of weeks on the websites of the Ministry and the Association: >publications

For further information please contact:

Päivi Voutilainen, Development Manager, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 9 160 74135, 040 5149 455

Jussi Merikallio, Director, Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, tel. +358 9 771 2602, 050 66 748

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