Two men look at each other.

Persons with intellectual disabilities and their families are happy with oral health care services – the most room for development lies in health centre services and rehabilitation planning

Persons with intellectual disabilities and their families are happy with the functionality of oral health care services in Uusimaa. They feel that health centre services and the preparation and realisation of rehabilitation plans involve the most challenges. These are the results from the survey intended for persons with intellectual disabilities and their close relatives as a part of the ‘Care paths of persons with intellectual disabilities’ project.

According to the survey respondents. oral health care services have good practices for interacting with a customer with intellectual disabilities. In particular, the longer duration of the appointments and the consideration for the customer’s special characteristics received praise. Good practices of oral health care mentioned by the respondents also involved the habit of explaining the next actions and using images to support the explanations.

In basic health care, meaning health centre services, problems were experienced in the changing staff, the difficulty in getting an appointment and long wait times. Respondents also criticised the unclear division of responsibilities and the lack of overall care. Some family members felt they are responsible for all care for their intellectually disabled family member and they must constantly fight for the rights of their family member. Family members also fear what will happen if they do not have the energy or skills to fight for these matters.

However, the same matters that were mentioned as areas for development were also emphasised in positive feedback. Things such as the staff competence, interaction with the customer and the clarity of the care responsibilities also gained praise.

“The results of the survey show that the needs of the respondents are not being met in the best possible way in the municipalities. We are taking these results seriously and will work to improve our operations,” says Sanna Svahn, the chairperson of the steering group of the ‘Care paths of persons with intellectual disabilities’ project.

The survey for persons with intellectual disabilities and their family members was implemented as an online survey in November–December 2020. They survey studied how health centre services, oral health care services, treatment of illnesses related to intellectual disabilities and the rehabilitation plan process currently meet the needs of persons with intellectual disabilities. Development suggestions were also requested from the respondents.

There were 342 respondents, 6% of whom were persons with intellectual disabilities, 33% were guardians of an underage person with an intellectual disability, 23% were carers or assistants dealing with the health care matters of a person with an intellectual disability, and 38% were family members of a person with an intellectual disability.

Respondents included persons from almost all municipalities and joint municipal authorities in Uusimaa. Helsinki (98) and Espoo (91) were the best represented areas. There were no significant differences between large and small municipalities in the survey.