Minna Kaarakainen | University of Helsinki
Housing and services for the elderly are going through a major change mainly due to the trend of increasing amount of elderly people living alone in Western countries. There is not enough knowledge of the housing situation and the housing and service preferences among elderly people. Although the elderly want to live in their own homes, they also want to do that on their own terms with services that support their wellbeing and increase their quality of life. Moreover, financial issues should be considered in a sustainable way. Nevertheless, housing is a major explanatory factor for the health status and the level of care needs of the elderly.
The political aim in the Western countries has been that the elderly should live in their own homes as long as possible and to decrease the amount of institutional care. At the moment, there are various options for the housing of the elderly: from one’s own home to institutional care. In Finland, elderly care has been provided by the municipalities but this is going to change since the central government has launched a reform that compels the municipalities to establish regions for health care and social welfare (The healthcare, social welfare and regional government reform package 2016). At the same time, Finnish government has increased the individual freedom of choice in health services that will affect elderly care and housing as well (National Institute of Health and Welfare 2016).
The overall aim of this study is to find out how objective welfare and subjective well-being are met.
The study also aims to analyze the current statuses of welfare and housing and their structure, production and usage. This is done in order to search for and analyze new innovative solutions that enable older people to stay in their homes active and satisfied with their quality of life. The focus of the study is on circumstances in Finland.
During the past years, we have gathered documents and data of Finnish elderly care housing solutions and supporting services from various research projects and proposals considering elderly care services, financing and housing in multidisciplinary angles (health policy and management, social policy, economics, economic geography).
At the moment, we are able to introduce findings from an objective perspective: what sort of housing types, services and funding instruments are provided. Including subjective perspective into this discussion will raise new innovative solutions for the housing of the elderly and the services for them.
This information can be used for developing and benchmarking the housing of the elderly and the services for them even though we know that we need more information and comparative cases from other countries as well. However, we are familiar with European elderly care models and know that there are good practices that could be tested in the Finnish system as well. Based on our findings, we claim that taking individual perspectives into consideration and developing housing and services from these points, sustainable welfare will be increased.