Long-term care reform could mean increased fees and longer waiting times

Pärsti Nursing Home in Viljandi County.
Pärsti Nursing Home in Viljandi County. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

Estonia's long-term care reform is set to come into force on July 1. As a result, Estonia's care homes will be expected to meet new requirements. The potential need to increase staff due to the reform may also mean Estonia's care homes are forced to make further fee increases. Waiting lists for places in care homes may also become longer.

At the start of this year, fees at Piigaste Südamekodu, a care home in Põlva County, have risen from €930 per month to €1,030. If, following the introduction of the long-term care reform on July 1, care homes are required to hire more staff, their fees are also expected to increase further.

"We will definitely have to review the fees during, or prior to, July," said Ester Paap, manager of Piigaste Südamekodu. "We may have to hire more staff, and then increase fees (again). We can't avoid that," Paap added.

Paap said, that with the long-term care reform set to come into force in July, there has been an increase in inquiries about care home places. According to Paap, most of those asking about the possibility of placing their loved ones in care homes are now doing so with an awareness of the care reform and the potential support available from the state to help cover the costs.

"There is a great deal of interest because lots of people are (now) still paying expensive fees due to the price rises. Pensions obviously cover a very small part of this," explained Paap.

As in many of Estonia's other care homes, there are long waiting lists for a place at Põlva Municipality Care Home (Põlva valla hooldekodu). According to Helen Metsma, head of the center, after July 1, the lines could increase further, meaning people will have to wait even longer to get a place at the home for their loved ones.

"Right now, we can already see that there has been an increase in the number of people asking for and wanting places in care homes," said Metsma.

Metsma explained, that a lot of people have called the home to say that they really need a place, but are unable to afford the current fees, which will remain in place until July 1. They then often ask if is likely that they will suddenly be able to find a place in a home after that date. "Unfortunately, we can't say whether they will or not," she added.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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