Older people services undergoing a change

An older man at home making coffee.


The need for services for older people is increasing

As the population ages, an increasing number of older people will need services as their functioning decreases.

Even though the majority of older people can lead an independent life, the need for help increases especially in their last years of life. The clients of home care are increasingly older, have more diseases and need an increasing amount of help. There will also be more older people with memory disorders.

Public healthcare and social welfare services have become the responsibility of the wellbeing services counties in 2023, but the municipalities will still be responsible for promoting the health and wellbeing of the residents. This will be done in cooperation with the wellbeing service county.

Municipalities can respond to the increasing need for services by investing in actions that increase well-being and are preventive, counselling, guidance and targeting rehabilitation services to the persons who benefit from them.
Well-being of older people in the municipality (Ageing web page)

Home care is prioritized

The national policy is to allow older people to live at home and have the services they need provided at home around the clock. Home care and communal housing are strongly developed to meet the needs of the older people. This means, among other things, remote care services, home rehabilitation, home hospital services and the participation and commitment of physicians in the outpatient care of the elderly. When an older person lives at home, they should be supported by a network that consists of professionals, family members and volunteers.

24-hour housing and care is used only if the person cannot live at home even when supported by intensive home care. Also then care must be provided in as home-like environment as possible.

Institutional care is being abandoned. At the moment only 0-1 % of those over 75 years of age need long-term institutional care on medical grounds.

When developing the service structure a new attitude and an innovative approach, management by knowledge, collaboration across sectors and professions and a wide range of services and technological solutions that support and complement each other is needed.
Read more at Technology supporting smart ageing and care at home programme (KATI) web page

An older person is the best expert of their life

The older person’s thoughts and wishes are the basis of the care and support provided and should be listened to closely and respected. This way it is possible to gain an understanding of their life situation, goals, resources and challenges. It is also important to find out what kind of care an older person wishes to have at the end of their life.
Advance decision (Ageing web page)

It is important for an older person that

  • their service needs are assessed with them
  • they are met and interacted with in a good and appreciative manner
  • the service portfolios are tailored to their needs and wishes. 

When the service portfolios are customised to meet the client’s wishes and matched well with each other, they are not only suitable and pleasant for the client, but also their quality and cost-efficiency is high.

It is important for the older person to be heard. Their wishes and opinions must be taken into account and their right to self-determination respected. They must be given the opportunity to participate and influence the planning and implementation of their services and also be given the opportunity to change their mind.

A seamless whole ensures the functionality of the services

It is important that the services form a seamless whole even though they are provided by different organisations. Therefore, the responsibility for coordinating the services and ensuring that they work must lie on a single party. This avoids problems in the flow of information and duplication of effort.

When the services for older people are centralised and integrated, they can be more diverse. Help is provided where it is needed the most. Help from specialists, such as geriatric and rehabilitation specialists, is better available.

The personnel needs expertise in palliative and hospice care, as well as a support network specialized in palliative care, so that quality end-of-life care and a dignified death can be implemented where the person lives.
End-of-life care (Ageing web page)

The availability, accessibility and adequacy of services requires that

  • information on the services is easily available and understandable
  • the clients are skilfully and sufficiently directed to the services
  • the criteria for inclusion is consistent
  • the services are based on a service needs assessment
  • services adapt to the changing needs of the client
  • the service prices are reasonable.

Benchmarking data helps to develop the quality of services

The challenge faced by service providers and producers is how to ensure that older people get appropriate and high-quality care also in the future. Benchmarking highlights good practice and helps to learn from others.

Benchmarking data supports the improvement of quality. It enables the setting of goals, identification of development targets and measuring the attainment of the desired goals. Benchmarking data forms a common and fair basis for comparison and acts as the starting point for quality development efforts.
Read more on benchmarking data and benchmarking (Ageing web page)

More information on services for older people