In western countries, the so-called demographic time bomb, that is, the ageing of the baby-boom generation, has become one of the most challenging issues. Although it has become almost clichéd in health care planning, its effects are being felt rather acutely in reality. The situation in Finland, as in many other western countries, is compounded by the fact that as demand for elderly care is increasing, the service systems are suffering from severe labor and tax funding shortages. In fact, population in Finland is aging faster than any other OECD country (Antolin, Oxley, & Suyker, 2001). Elderly care centers have difficulties in hiring qualified professional staff. Nursing staff are also burdened by heavy workloads. The situation will worsen by time as the number of elderly people in our population increases further, leading to increased strain on health care resources. The present service structure is not going to be able to respond to this demand. Yet health care funding, which depends on public financing, will decrease as the number of taxpayers declines due to the aging of our workforce. “Elderly dependence ratio,” a key demographic indicator, will approximately double over the next two decades (Eurostat, 2005).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Care Path: Illustrates the patient flow through the different care services also over organizational boundaries.
Not-Rehabilitated-in-Process (NRIP): The diagnostic and care periods in acute care are completed but the care process is not finished, for example, lack of rehabilitation.
Service Levels: In the elderly care environment, there are four different levels of care, including acute care, institutional care, service housing, and home care.
Institutional Care: Long-term care in ward or in nursing home.
Acute Care: Short-term care in ward.