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elderly care

Finnish government worried over fate of elderly immigrants in Sweden

Published måndag 7 maj 2012 kl 11.00
"They are starting to lose their Swedish"
(2:53 min)
Maria Larsson is the Swedish minister in charge of elderly care. Photo: Henrik Mongomery/Erik Mårtensson/Scanpix

Finland's minister for Health and Social Services says that Sweden needs to do more to provide Finnish-language old age care, since she estimates there are over ten thousand people in Sweden over 80, with Finnish as their mother tongue.

Of the immigrants in Sweden, people born in Finland are a clear majority. Over half of all those born outside Sweden, were born in Sweden's eastern neighbour.

The fate of this group, over 160,000 strong, is a concern to the Finnish government. They say that there needs to be ten times the number of places in Finnish-language old age care homes.

Maria Guzenina-Richardsson, has handed over a report to her Swedish counterpart. The Finns say this investigation shows the need for more focus on Finnish-speaking old people.

"We get a lot of feedback from families of old people living in Sweden," says  Maria Guzenina-Richardsson. She adds that people "are very worried that their relatives are starting to lose their Swedish, but cannot get Finnish-speaking help."

The Finnish government estimates that there are 66,000 Finnish immigrants over the age of 65, who're living in Sweden. And 11,000 are over 80 years old.

But the number of places in Finnish-language care homes is well below that - only 300. So the Finnish minister wants this to be upped to 3,000 instead.

Minister Maria Guzenina-Richardsson says she expects the Swedish government to pay attention to this need.

The Swedish Minister for Children and the Elderly is Maria Larsson. She says that there is much to do, but that the situation has already improved - that over 100 local municipalities have now brought in a law that allows people to choose what care provider they use. And that in many areas there are foreign languages on offer, especially for people who get assistance in their own homes, known in Swedish as hemtjänst.
But it's not just the Finnish government saying that more needs to be done. The Stockholm county board also says that there's an acute need for more Finnish-language old age care, and that in the local municipalities, nothing much has happened.
"their relatives are starting to lose their Swedish
Swedish minister Maria Larsson says that changing this situation is the responsibility for the local councils themselves. And that the state has already given them support - money that she says has not even been used, in many cases.

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