Several Cities Drop Esperi Care Nursing Services – Serious Negligence Reported | Yle Uutiset

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The safety of elderly patients is at risk, authorities say.

Image: Ismo Pekkarinen


Several Finnish cities have stopped sending elderly people to nursing homes run by the company Espéri Care due to long-standing serious shortcomings in the quality of the company’s services.

Service sector watchdog Valvira said on Friday that at least one elderly resident is believed to have died as a result of the company’s negligence.

According to regional state administrative agencies for southern and western Finland, Esperi Care staff without a medical license administered medication; the company’s retirement homes were dirty and in poor condition; and nurses even abused their elderly clients by arbitrarily ordering them to lie down or not letting them visit outside.

Inspector General Päivi Vainio of the administrative agency of southern Finland said that the most critical problem with the company’s services is that there are not enough staff on call for the number of elderly patients.

For example, the operating license of the “Vuokko” retirement home in Porvoo requires that there be 0.58 employees per customer. In reality, a single worker must systematically represent around thirty clients.

“If you have a unit with 30 to 40 residents who need toilet assistance and only one nurse there, that means diapers. You can imagine what that looks like,” Vainio said. “It is a matter of safety, when a nursing home does not provide 24 hour care.”

The retirement homes of Porvoo, Muurame, Lahti, Kristiinankaupunki and Vantaa have severed ties with the Esperi Care facilities in the past; While in some cases nursing unit standards have been high enough that the city has changed its mind, Porvoo and Kristiinankaupunki continue to boycott their local facilities, whose directors say their issues have been resolved.

Problems with Esperi Care were first noticed in 2017, when Vainio’s administrative agency carried out an unannounced inspection which revealed the poor quality of care at Porvoo. Seven “Vuokko” employees have resigned from the center and 14 fixed-term contracts have expired since 2016.

Vicious circle

CEO of Esperi Care Marja Aarnio-Isohanni said in a statement on Saturday that she regretted the fact that the directors of the company did not take the critical reports seriously.

“We are extremely sorry and it has been a learning experience. We will resolve these issues immediately,” wrote Aarnio-Isohanni. “We will hire more staff. We will make hourly workers full-time employees and improve our administrative practices.”

Aarnio-Isohanni was the second richest woman in Finland in 2017, earning more than 5.7 million euros that year.

Legislative leader Vappu Okkeri of the Union of Health and Social Service Professionals (Tehy) said on Saturday that private nursing homes have much more serious quality of service problems than institutions run by a city or municipality.

“The problems with Esperi are the worst, although similar negligence also occurs in other conglomerates such as Attendo and Mehiläinen,” Okkeri said. “The real reason is a culture of unhealthy competition. Municipalities are trying to save money by outsourcing their care for the elderly, but companies must turn a profit, so the vicious circle is closed.


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