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Carers and Work-Care Reconciliation International Conference University House, University of Leeds Tuesday 13th August 2013 Family carers in the Finnish.

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Presentation on theme: "Carers and Work-Care Reconciliation International Conference University House, University of Leeds Tuesday 13th August 2013 Family carers in the Finnish."— Presentation transcript:

1 Carers and Work-Care Reconciliation International Conference University House, University of Leeds Tuesday 13th August 2013 Family carers in the Finnish welfare state: challenges and coping strategies Outi Jolanki, PhD Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy University of Jyväskylä

2 The Finnish welfare state Rather generous publicly financed services, directed to all and used by all social groups, no means-testing –Helps both people needing care and their family members/carers The responsibility to provide care rests with highly independent local state (municipalities)

3 The general idea of family care in the Finnish society No legal responsibility for family to care for adults Most people support the idea that family members should help their older relatives, but expect state to participate and provide care services for older people –According to surveys no clear preference for the formal care or family care During last few years family care and need to support family carers of older people has been brought to the political agenda and has been a common topic in public discussions (in media)

4 Services: different trends for older people and people with disabilities General social and health care services available for all – helps both people with care needs and the carers Services for disabled people –De-familising/normalising aim – to increase the independence of users and family members Publicly funded services: housing services (cleaning, group- homes), transportation, interpreters, technical assistance, reimbursement for hom renovation Personal Assistance scheme (employer/employee-relation, not a family member) Services for older people –Aim to support family carers (re-familisation) –Declining resources and coverage of home care services – targeted for those with extensive care needs – others need to rely on self-help, family or private service providers increase in private service providers f.ex. providing cleaning services, home maintenance, personal care etc. Challenge: large regional variation in coverage and quality of services due to LAs discretion– concerns all service users

5 Payments for family care Care Allowance (1982- ) to care for person who needs help due to illness, old age or disability (2011, ) –LA discretion, budget funding, taxable income –364 – 728€/month highest amount for 24/7 care situation, not enough to compensate salary, mainly used by older spouses (both retired) –Since 2005 the right to have 3 days off/month – respite care organised by the municipality (day centre/residential care facility) –Constant lack of good quality respite care places and carers coming to home –2011 Support for Informal Carers Act (revised) LAs may contract with ’respite care’ worker to replace family carer Special Care Allowance (during treatment of a sick child, based on the parent’s income) Disability Allowance (to parents of under 16-year-old disabled child to support care at home, 92/215/417€/month) Job Alternation Leave Benefit (not targeted for the carers, but used by some carers to have time off from work) –70-80% of unemployment benefit, days –Only for those with long work histories (often used by women working in public social and health care sector)

6 Employment related policies Hardly any rights for carers When caring for an adult: flexible or reduced hours and time off in the case of emergencies need to be negotiated with the employer, no absolute legal rights Very different from employment policies for parents of small children, whose rights protected more strongly by law –Paid parental leave, paid temporary leave for caring for a sick child, right to return to work (same) after parental leave Temporary care leave to care for someone who needs help due to illness, disability or old age –Employers Contracts Act 2001, Amendment 2011 –Amendment strengthened the carers rights i.e. the empolyer needs to provide an explanation if the leave is denied, employee has the right to return to same work duties –Unpaid, suggested for short-time absence only (duration not defined) –Employers discretion Political discussion in 2007 of the law amendment was directly linked to the need to support family carers of older people

7 Summary In Finland: During recent years family care and the need to support family carers of older people have received increasing attention in public discussions (in media) and in political decision-making & national and regional strategies – family ’rediscovered’ –New goverment budget proposal (August 2013): 10 million euros to develop family carers’ support services Working carers are still quite invisible and have few rights; carers allowance used mostly by retired people –Coping strategies: use of public home care services, part-time work (rather rare in Finland) or early retirement Recently modest attention to family care as a work-life issue (mentioned briefly in national strategy papers etc.) Family care is not seen as an gender issue Carers and those who need care expect good quality public services and not to be ’left alone’ by the state; yet family care seems to be seen as an alternative for formal care services in Finland

8 Similarities and differences between Sweden and Finland Similarities: Carers expect to receive help from public care services Rather generous social and health care services Disability benefits and services more generous than services available for older people In daily life carers face similar challenges and problems than carers everywhere - ambiguous situations: will to care but combining care and work experienced as stressful, potentially reduce work-life participation, can have negative effect on carer’s health and social life, carers call for flexible workplace arrangements and tailored individual services

9 Differences… Differences: Sweden has more generous, tailored and individualised public care services and benefits than Finland –In particurlarly publicly funded disability services and benefits The role of the family seen more voluntary in Sweden (by citizens and by authorities) whereas in Finland family carers more strongly at the ’politicial agenda’ and more strongly tied with the formal care system (in practice and in political speech) In Finland new work law amendment (care leave) to support caring workers Finnish people favour ’shared care’ i.e. sharing responsibility between family and formal care services slightly more than Swedish people who emphasise more strongly the need to have good quality formal services as a primary source of support?


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