Legislation on services for persons with disabilities will be reformed

The current Act on Services and Assistance for the Disabled and the Act on Special Care for the Mentally Handicapped will be consolidated into one act on special services for persons with disabilities that would apply to all persons with disabilities equally. 

The Government submitted a proposal on the matter to Parliament on 27 September 2018. The act is due to come into force on 1 January 2021.

The new act on services for persons with disabilities would safeguard all persons with disabilities access to services in accordance with their individual needs. Diagnosis would not determine eligibility for services. 

The new act would include provisions on special social welfare services. Health services for persons with disabilities would be organised based on the healthcare legislation.

Special services for persons with disabilities

Persons with disabilities would retain their subjective right to necessary special services. Access to coaching and support to reinforce individuals’ own resources would be extended to a larger group of persons with disabilities. More people would be eligible for short-term care, too. 

The current options for personal assistance services would be retained. There would be more detailed provisions on persons with disabilities as employers of their personal assistants. Persons with disabilities could become employers only if they have consented to it after their unincorporated county enterprise has given them a sufficient overview of employers’ obligations and responsibilities.

There would be more options for supporting the mobility of persons with disabilities. For example, individuals could be assigned a car instead of transportation services if they meet certain conditions. If clients give their consent, counties could even grant individual clients the right to use transportation services based on the number of kilometres instead of the number of trips. Clients could use the services anywhere in Finland and would not be restricted to their own municipality or county. Counties could grant clients the right to use transportation services for one year at the most instead for just one month.

Support for housing would be primarily organised in the dwelling and place of residence the individual has chosen.

Services for persons with disabilities would continue to be mainly free-of-charge.

Status of children with disabilities

Children with disabilities would be given better opportunities to be heard and included in decisions concerning their services.

Special needs of children and young people would be taken into account better than at present. For example, families could get individualised assistance at home so that children with disabilities could live at home even in demanding cases. Early childhood coaching and support could be organised for children with disabilities who need early childhood education and care to foster their social inclusion. Young persons on the brink of adulthood could be helped through coaching and support in their transition from their childhood home to their own home and independent living.

Counties would be responsible for organising services

There would no longer be any special care districts or programmes. The counties would be responsible for organising services in the future under the Act on Organising Healthcare and Social Welfare Services. 

The Act on Clients' Freedom of Choice in Healthcare and Social Welfare would have provisions on personal budget. Counties could grant personal budgets to individuals who need many different kinds of services. With a personal budget individuals could get the services recorded in an official decision and their client care plan and to which they are entitled by law. Personal budgets would be available in 2022. 

Further information