National Coalition Party only government group to oppose binding minimum staffing requirements in elderly care institutions
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen
The National Coalition Party is the only party in the present government to oppose setting mandatory minimum requirements for a ratio of caregivers to residents at institutions for elderly care.
The Christian Democrats, the Greens, and the Left Alliance are all in favour of legislation setting a mandatory minimum for staffing.
Ministers taking part in a meeting of the National Coalition Party's ministerial group in Oulu declared this week that they oppose setting any binding numerical staff-to-resident ratios.
A proposal by Minister of Social Services Maria Guzenina-Richardson (SDP) for an average 0.7 caregivers per resident is seen by most as reasonable.
"Under no circumstances is it too much", says Left Alliance deputy hair Aino-Kaisa Pekonen.
"I am concerned lest the minimum will become a maximum in the institutions, and that permission would be given to cut staff in places where there are nine caregivers for ten senior citizens."
Swedish People’s Party chairman Carl Haglund does not feel that it is sensible to use the same scale everyplace. "It is good that a minimum norm is put forward, but the minimum level needs to be gauged so that it will correspond with the real need for service."
Christian Democratic Party chair, Minister of the Interior Päivi Räsänen, says that she does not feel that the estimated annual cost of EUR 140 million is a very big input.
The Greens have not decided what stand to take on the matter. The party’s chairman, Minister of the Environment Ville Niinistö, is willing to accept the mandatory minimums.
"What is most important is that home services and home treatment should be improved so that an elderly person will be able to stay at home as long as possible", Niinistö says.
The opposition Centre Party offered some support for the views of the National Coalition Party. The Centre’s deputy chair Annika Saarikko says that the entire debate has gone in the wrong direction, with its focus on institutional care instead of home care.
Saarikko did not openly come out against legally binding ratios, but she said that the issue "is not a solution to the whole of elderly care as such".
Finns Party group leader Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner called on Guzenina-Richardson to keep her promise. "Guzenina-Richardson and Risikko might think about whether to cut elderly services that take place at home, or rebates for medicine."
More on this subject:
NEWS ANALYSIS: Playing political games with elderly care
Previously in HS International Edition:
Wrangling in government over provision of adequate level of care for the elderly (10.8.2012)
Care for the elderly: Minister Maria Guzenina-Richardson has raised her ratio of caregivers per resident (15.8.2012)
National Coalition Party rejects proposal for binding ratio of caregivers to residents (16.8.2012)