Finnish Care Homes – Dumpsters For Elderly

An over-80 close friend’s mother (let’s call her Emma) who suffers from dementia was suddenly left without the support of her husband when he collapsed and was sent immediately to hospital with a dilapidating muscular problem.

Emma was also taken to an emergency temporary care-home that was very different from her secure and calm home where she knew her way around.

She had to share a room with three other elderly ladies in various states of distress. One moaned loudly without any clear reason – nobody could make her quieter or calmer. The other two frail ladies lay in bed without much sign of consciousness. Outside the shared space one tall man chased around and turned over the chairs and verbally attacked each person in the room without rhyme or reason.

After two weeks, Emma was clearly weakened both mentally and physically, but then her daughter managed to find another publicly run care-home that was quieter than this first place.

The second one is much better with just one other person in her bedroom. The staff are kind but harried. We visited the place together with her daughter and it was clear that there are just too few hands to manage the inmates. We also saw that a few young staff members standing around aimlessly and leaving chores to the experienced older staff members. It did not look like that there was a clear organisation or work schedule for staff. In addition, the “private” rooms and public spaces all needed a good coat of paint – the outside of the building, the lift and the stairwell needed much more. The positive was that the interior living spaces are warm and dry.

The big question that for Emma is that she has worked and paid taxes during her career as an office worker and since retiring at 65 she has been living off a well-earned but very modest pension. One would like to think that the public sector has sufficient resources to care for one demented patient in a small, clean and modern apartment with proper professional care. But Emma’s experience is shocking. The rooms are of the lowest acceptable standard, far below the standard that she could afford in her own home! Most of the staff in this care-home are kind and well trained, but they are too few. It is clear that a number are unsuitable or not trained properly for the work.

Emma, need regular drugs for her dementia, and when her daughter got a call from the care-home late last Friday afternoon telling them that there are only enough for that evening. She went through the roof since she lives in Helsinki and the Emma’s care-home is 150 kilometers away. There are no relatives living closer to Emma, and taking a train would mean that the daughter would arrive at least three hours later when most chemists are closed.

Frustration increased because the daughter was at the care-home two days before this and nothing was said about low store of drugs! In the end a solution was found but several hours were wasted on the phone feeling desperate.

The present government here promised to be improve care of the elderly and boost care with the development of the newly organized Regional Healthcare Units effectively under the control of the government – their promise is that healthcare can be provided more effectively because “Bigger shoulders can work better”…

Six months after the elections we only hear about proposed cuts in healthcare and care of the elderly. Austerity is their favorite password…

It would be useful to put all the ministers in these shared rooms at their local care-homes to taste their own poison.

The whole of Finland’s population will almost certainly be in a care-home during the last years of their life.

Let’s be clear – the whole of Finland’s population will almost certainly be in a care-home during the last years of their life. This is not a question of choice or a matter of chance. It is a 99% probability unless you are killed in a road accident, fall off a mountain, or  choke on a meatball, etc.!

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