A person touching another persons wrist.

The impacts of the staffing level of Helsinki’s round-the-clock care services

Helsinki has a good staffing level in round-the-clock care services. Changes to the Act on Care Services for the Elderly are having an impact on the personnel structure and the arrangement of support services, in particular. The change and planning work is already well under way.

“We have been preparing for these changes for a long time in cooperation with other municipalities of the Helsinki metropolitan area. In Helsinki, the change mainly concerns the arrangement of support services and the recruitment of care assistants,” says Seija Meripaasi, director of hospital, care and rehabilitation services.

It is estimated that the change to the staffing level will cause additional costs of  about EUR 14 million to Helsinki by 2023. 

What is being done in Helsinki?

The City of Helsinki is currently planning additional procurements and making support services, such as laundry and cleaning services, more uniform. There are differences between the units of the City in how laundry services have been arranged.

“Our goal is to reduce the nursing staff’s workload related to support services in order to allow them to focus on nursing. We will start additional purchases of laundry services in early summer,” says Service District Director Maritta Haavisto.

Developing the monitoring of staffing levels is also a huge task.

“We still need to solve the issue of how the work performed by all substitute and gig workers can be recorded and how to allocate the work performed by different professional groups. One person can work in several different units in a single shift,” says Haavisto.

The City of Helsinki is currently developing its work shift software in order to make planning work related to staffing easier and provide up-to-date information for the supervision of the City’s operations and monitoring of staffing levels. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare also monitors staffing levels with two surveys a year.

“We are also involved with the national development work of DigiFinland and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. The goal is to have the monitoring of the services for the elderly automated in a way that allows for generating information from different systems as automatically as possible and in a timely manner,” says Haavisto.

Helsinki to recruit more than 60 care assistants

Care assistants can be included in the staffing level as they are involved with direct work with clients, for example, by assisting with washing and eating. However, they cannot work alone or be responsible for medications.

“Helsinki has had not vacancies for care assistants before, so this is a significant change in the personnel structure for us. Care assistants worked as substitutes in the services for the elderly when Apotti was introduced with good experiences. We are starting the training of our own apprenticeship group this autumn. Everything seems promising at the moment,” says Chief Nursing Officer Marketta Kupiainen.

The first care assistants will be hired for the round-the-clock care services for the elderly. Their duties will primarily include direct work with clients, such as assisting with washing and dressing, but also indirect work, such as tasks related to the food and clothing services for the residents.  

Staffing level

  • The aim of the change to the Act on Care Services for the Elderly is to improve the quality of services and the safety of clients and patients.

  • The staffing level is calculated from the ratio of work performed by the employees present at a care unit and the number of residents.

  • The staffing level will increase incrementally. The staffing level will enter fully into force on 1 April 2023, when the actual staffing level must be at least 0.7 employees per client.

  • The staffing level applies to round-the-clock care services, i.e. senior centres and service houses. Currently, there are about 4,000 round-the-clock care positions in Helsinki. Approximately half of these are outsourced positions.

​Picture: Pexels