Five Reasons to Not Get Old

Finland’s healthcare system is being pushed to the ground by a rightwing government that wants to outsource doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers to the private sector for bigger salaries and bigger profits of private companies and a few private equity funds.

Let’s just take a few examples of what is happening.

One of the biggest privately-owned care-home provider here is a company called Attendo Oy.

Attendo runs small home units around Finland owned by the company where it provides care for the elderly who cannot look after themselves but are otherwise sound of mind and relatively mobile. There are several other similar big companies and all share the same problems outlined here.

Another fast-growing group also housed in Attendo’s small home units are the elderly who are suffering from many types of dementia, in its many forms of advancement. These people need 24/7 attention and care.

Attendo sells it services to the regional Healthcare regions in Finland who is the service provider. The Healthcare regions are the legal entities recently created by the last government for managing our public healthcare systems and care of the elderly.

Attendo publishes nice brochures that it uses to sell these home services to the elderly and their families. Judging by their pictures and text, you would think that Finland makes every effort to see that these two groups of patients are well-cared for.

This is far from the truth:

  1. Minimum numbers of various staff numbers are set by the government who are responsible for caring for these patients. However, when you visit Attendo’s homes you will find that these numbers are not being observed because trained staff is hard to find and keep, and Attendo has found ways and means to “fix” the numbers. As a visitor it is hard to check the headcount but watching your father’s or mother’s failing condition or frustration is a saddening experience caused by a simple lack of hands or having sufficiently well-trained and motivated staff on site.
  2. Most of the elderly are sitting around TV screens or are sitting in their room. Many just lay in bad. Daily activities are few and far between – in winter, that can last for 5 top 6 months, outside walks are rare.
  3. Many patients need to visit the toilet and they need help to go there and clean themselves. Many cannot even ask – but a god healthcare worker will know the signs. Nappies may not be changed promptly when soaked or covered in feces.
  4. The food patients are served is often of poor quality and low-cost and is nothing close to what you see in those nice pictures.
  5. The staff, many of whom are great people, are over-worked because there are not enough hands. Other major staffing problems are that too many young Finns are employed as apprentices – they are cheap workers who lack experience to deal with weak patients. Also, there are too few foreigners who speak and understand Finnish or Swedish. These old folk can just about communicate in one of these two languages. Pay is poor for these workers – many cannot or do not want other work – there are clear exceptions but in general there is an absence of caring. The staff will often be seen sitting together in a corner peering, talking or texting into smartphones and laptops, while “patient X” or “patient Y” is in dire need of going to the toilet, or needs some other kind of care because of pain or confusion.

These are not good places to visit – it hurts, and whether you like it or not, most of us will end up there while the bosses at Attendo in Finland can at least more that €250 000 each year!

One may wonder why this is happening to these important basic services when almost all Finns will be passing through this Orwellian system at the end of their lives…

… and that is the reason why the private sector loves this business. It pays well without risks and the elderly, who may complain are not always fit enough to soon settle down to the drudgery of their last days. Their families may also fear that complaints may lead to retaliation – a real threat for their loved ones who may end up at the wrong end of underserved punishment.

For the record, your correspondent has seen first-hand what Attendo has been doing to some family members. The above are not fabricated stories, but most unfortunately, a taste of the truth that one of you may soon be facing.

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