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New and clearer eligibility criteria for home care in Helsinki

The eligibility criteria for home care were clarified in order to guarantee equal provision of home care services to all clients. The change ensures that the eligibility criteria for home care are transparent, equal and fair for everybody.

The change in the eligibility criteria does not affect current home care client relationships in general. If there are any changes in a client’s circumstances, the need for home care will be re-assessed.

“Everybody who needs home care services will continue to have access to them. Nobody will be left out,” says Service District Director Soili Partanen, who is responsible for developing home care services.

“For example, if a client’s health improves as a result of rehabilitation and they no longer fulfil the eligibility criteria for home care services, regular home care visits may be discontinued. Even in such circumstances the client will be provided with services that allow them to continue living at home safely. In addition, they can be assigned a contact person whom they can contact for advice and help in their personal situation,” says Partanen.

The new eligibility criteria approved by the Social Services and Health Care Committee entered into force at the beginning of the year. Corresponding principles are applied in other municipalities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

“The change was made to ensure that we are able to provide home care services to those who need them as the population ages and demand increases,” says Partanen.

Decisions about home care based on a service needs assessment

Each decision to provide a client with home care services is based on a service needs assessment. The assessment is made whenever a new client relationship is established, and it is based on the overall situation of the client. In the assessment, the client’s own resources and their opinion regarding their need for help are considered.

Service needs assessments are performed by experts of the centralised client counselling services. The situation of clients who are already provided with home care services is also assessed regularly.

Home care services may be provided to persons who 

  • need medical care but cannot access the services of a health station or a private service provider due to their physical, social or psychological disabilities even with assistance. 
  • have a clearly impaired ability to function and cannot cope with basic daily activities independently with the assistance of a relative or other assistant. Basic daily activities refer to looking after personal hygiene and nutrition and putting on clothes, for example. 
  • receive informal care, if the coping of the informal carer should be supported. The informal carer must have acquired a decision regarding support for informal care.

Home care services can also be provided on a temporary basis to persons who need medical care in order to treat a wound, for example. The provision of temporary home care services cannot last longer than two months.

All assessments are based on the international Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI). The use of the instrument is specified in the Act on Care Services for Older People. The instrument is a tool that allows for determining the support and care needed by a client. There are different indicators in the system for the client’s ability to cope with everyday tasks, health status, nutrition and pain, for example.

Home care refers to home nursing and home services. Home care employees are also responsible for arranging support services, such as shopping, washing, preparing food and cleaning. Certain visits can be arranged as remote visits.

There are about 7,000 regular clients of home care services in Helsinki. More than 3 million home visits are made every year. 

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