Finland will need to hire thousands of foreign nurses in the near future
A recent scandal in the elderly care system might derive in a job opportunity for many people with a nursing degree, either if they already live in Finland or that want to come from abroad
Finland has been recently dealing with a scandal over the care of its elderly people and it is causing the Government, and Finnish society overall, to consider what changes need to be done.
The scandal comes after several cases of severe neglect were found by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira), specifically in the city of Kristiinankaupunki. Valvira is currently investigating up to 15 deaths across the whole country suspected to have been derived of negligent treatment by staff, both at public and private facilities.
It has been found that the number of nurses and practical nurses in each elderly care institution are far less than the ones needed for proper functioning. Not only, and primarily, are the patients health severely affected by lack of adequate staff but the few professionals working have to do all tasks in many institutions.
By that, nurses have complained that they have to, not only care for the patients and what all that entails, but they also have to cook, clean and do maintenance work at the same time, according to our source at Superliito union, the practical nurses union. Those seem to be one of the biggest complains from professionals, aside from the type of contracts currently given, specifically in privately owned homes for the elderly.
Following the uncovering of more similar problems around the country, this situation has caused serious political and social debate in the past few weeks. It bears more political weight considering that it is a topic that might heavily influence the results for the upcoming elections in April.
Changing the rules
The government is now more willing to listen to the opposition parties and the nurses unions considering a few changes to the current situation. This means that they are open to changing the rules and laws of how these health care professionals are hired.
The opposition parties started by demanding that there should be 7 workers per 10 residents, but the current suggestion is of, at the very least, 5 in 10.
It is not clear yet if these numbers are for only nurses or other staff included, but, according to our source, unions defend that that there should be a minimum number required by law and that would be only regarding nurses and practical nurses, excluding other staff that will also be needed for these facilities to run adequately. That would mean, by some estimates, that at least 4200 nurses would need to be hired in the near future.
Foreigners with nursing degrees needed
This is where this situation might be of interest to foreign professionals: the government is considering hiring foreigners with nursing degrees that either already live here or that want to come from abroad.
One of the government considerations is that the foreign nurse might have to do an aptitude test (in case of practical nurses) but only need to speak English and thus not let the language barrier be an impediment to get experienced and capable professionals. Which has been a considerable problem -and it will be more so in the future- as there are not enough Finns currently working or willing to work on this field (and others), and the many foreigners who want to, either refuse/are refused or do not even regard Finland precisely because of the language barrier.
This is yet another major topic of discussion making Finnish society seriously considering their options and what the language difficulty can mean for the Finnish job market and, ultimately, for theirs and their country’s future. That is not only prevalent with the elderly care services, but also others where the language difficulty is affecting the number of people working in certain fields and the need for those numbers to increase.
Changes to be made soon
The topic is very recent, is still being discussed and there has not been any actual changes to the laws yet, so there are still many questions about the matter. What it is for sure is that changes will be made soon, with the opposition parties and unions pushing for better and safer contracts and for the willingness to hire foreigners with adequate training, studies and experience without having the language barrier be an impediment.
People interested in getting one of those workplaces should not be discouraged by the lack of more detailed information for now, as this will be a topic to be discussed and reported on further, specially when election season is coming. The Government is looking for a fast solution that will be accepted by the unions and opposition parties, but more importantly, that will appeal to the voters, next April.
Foreigner.fi will be coming back to this matter as soon as there are developments and will help those who are interested figuring out how to apply, and how to move into the country, if are currently not living in Finland.