Informal care and adult foster care

Informal care and adult foster care support the living at home of older people, the disabled and ill. Providing support for informal carers and organizing adult foster care is the responsibility of the wellbeing services counties.

Informal care

Informal care refers to care and support provided at the client’s home with the help of a family member or some other close person.

  • Approximately 50,000 people are in informal care in Finland.
  • The number of informal carers is around 48,000.
  • Approximately half of those receiving informal care are 75 years or older.
  • The majority of informal carers are women.
  • Memory disorders are the most common reason for informal care.

In 2022 4,2 percent of over 74 year olds received support for informal care. Approximately half of the municipalities reached the national goal of at least 5 percent.
More statistics on informal care in Sotkanet

Situation of informal carers

  • Eighty per cent of informal carers care for their family member or some other close person nearly 24/7
  • Without an informal carer, 57 percent of the people in informal care would be clients in intensive home care or care homes with 24-hour assistance.

Informal care is often hard and binding work. Despite this, approximately 40 percent of informal carers do not get any other support than a fee and statutory days off. 

An increasingly number of informal carers are older people who take care of their spouse. An old spouse-carer is in a particularly high risk of exhaustion. 

Support that is properly coordinated and meets the needs of the clients prevents exhaustion in informal carers and improves the quality of life of the person who needs care and support.

How can an informal carer be supported?

An informal carer can be supported by

  • regular contacts
  • well-being and health check-ups
  • support services that meet the informal carer’s needs 
  • statutory holidays and encouragement and support for having them
  • other days off granted as necessary
  • versatile substitute care options either at home or outside home 
  • help for arranging substitute care
  • exemption from client fees
  • opportunity to have a paid job, if desired.

Many family members care for their loved one without a contract with the municipality. These kinds of informal carers also need support.

Adult foster care of older people

Adult foster care is suitable for older persons for whom services provided by home care are not sufficient, but who do not need long-term 24-hour care in a care home or institutional care. The care is provided in a private home of a foster carer or at the client’s home.
Read more about adult foster care of older people

Adult foster care enables an older person to be a part of a family, live ordinary life in a family and feel safe and secure.

There is also professional foster care available. Professional foster care homes operate under a licence pursuant to the Act on Private Social Services.

Who benefits from adult foster care of older people?

Adult foster care is suitable for an older person who:

  • can cope when assisted by a single person
  • is not in in the later stages of dementia
  • usually sleeps well at night
  • feels lonely or unsafe at home.

Forms of adult foster care of older people

  • Short-term round-the-clock or part-time adult foster care in the older person's own home
    • supports living at home and coping with everyday life
    • is a way of arranging the informal carer's days off and short leaves to attend to matters
    • is helpful if home care visits cannot provide sufficient presence
    • supports a convalescent older person or a person undergoing rehabilitation after discharge from a hospital
  • Part-time or short-term adult foster care in a foster care home
    • provides meaningful activities that maintain functioning
    • provides social relationships
    • is a way of arranging the informal carer's holidays and short leaves to attend to matters
    • enables the informal carer to go to work
  • Long-term, continuous adult foster care in a foster care home
    • an option when living at home is no longer possible with the support of home care, informal care and/or partial or short-term adult foster care
    • can also be arranged at the older person’s own home.

Role of a foster carer

A foster carer does not have to be a health care or social welfare professional.

The suitability of the person for the task of a foster carer is ensured in advance coaching sessions. The coaching sessions are arranged jointly by wellbeing services counties and organisations.

Adjoining wellbeing services counties can cooperate to provide the statutory measures that support the coping and well-being of a foster carer.

The wellbeing services county supports foster carers in many ways.

The wellbeing services county:

  • appoints a person in charge for every person being cared for and ensures that the person in charge has enough time to support the foster carer
  • helps the foster carer as necessary in arranging substitute care for the statutory days off
  • tracks the well-being of a full-time foster carer by offering them well-being and health check-ups and by providing a service portfolio that supports the carer’s welfare
  • supports the foster carer by offering clinical supervision, further training and peer support
  • supports foster care by services of home care and home nursing.

Adult foster care in wellbeing services counties

Adult foster care is not yet very common. In the end of the year 2021 there were 1936 older people in 269 adult foster care homes for older people in 107 municipalities. The national target is a 10-fold increase in adult foster care of older people.
More statistics on adult foster care in Finland in Sotkanet 

When a wellbeing services county includes adult foster care among its service portfolio, it needs:

  • a rule book
  • preparatory courses for foster carers
  • a coordinator.

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