The nursing care reform will allocate additional financial resources to local municipalities, making nursing home placements more affordable for service recipients. This will enhance the overall quality of care and improve the availability of home-based support services. In addition, the local municipality will partially reimburse the accommodation and meal expenses of service recipients who have lower income and receive an average or below-average old-age pension.
According to the study conducted during the planning of the reform, approximately 22 percent or an estimated 230,000 people aged 16 and older in Estonia provide care or assistance to individuals with long-term health problems or disabilities. The most common care recipients are elderly relatives who require assistance with daily living at home. Over 30,000 people contribute more than 40 hours per week to caregiving.
"Often, working-age individuals taking care of their loved ones are faced with the difficult decision of either providing a place for them in a paid nursing home or becoming their caregiver themselves. "This puts a large part of the population in a vulnerable situation in the labor market," said Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo.
According to a study commissioned by the Ministry of Social Protection in 2022, it is estimated that as a result of the nursing care reform, approximately 20,000 people could re-enter the labor market. "With this reform, we aim to support the sense of security and economic well-being of people in need of care," "Equally important, we see the opportunity to improve the mental well-being of caregivers, as the reform will reduce their caregiving burden and increase the possibility of returning to the labor market," stated Riisalo.
According to statistics, the greatest need for care services is observed in the older age group. Therefore, the reform package includes additional support for those whose income falls below the average old-age pension rate. This year, the projected average cost of nursing home services is around 1300 euros per month, while the average old-age pension is approximately 700 euros, which does not fully cover the cost of the service.
"To support the well-being of care recipients, the reform package also includes relief for those who earn less than the average old-age pension. If a person's income falls below the average old-age pension, the local municipality will reimburse the shortfall up to the difference between the person's income and the average old-age pension. This ensures that the person in need of assistance can secure a nursing home placement," added Riisalo.
With the care reform, the state will invest 40 million euros in 2023 to improve the availability and quality of general care services, in 2024, nearly 57 million euros will be provided to the local government's revenue base from the state budget, and by 2026, the funding will increase to 62 million euros.
The nursing care reform can be considered one of the most significant, anticipated, and necessary reforms in the social sector in recent decades. With the reform, the state provides additional financial resources to municipalities, in addition to their existing funding, to support the organization of long-term care. Municipalities can use the funds provided by the state to organize both nursing home services and home care services.
More information: www.sm.ee/hooldereform