Activists for residents’ rights at Helsingin kaupungin asunnot Oy (Heka) deem the residents’ authority and influencing opportunities to be insufficient. The activists feel that the housing committees are asked for a statement as a mere formality and the statement is then ignored, because the decisions have been made beforehand. Influencing residential satisfaction was seen as the best-functioning sector of tenant democracy. In turn, influencing the maintenance of buildings was seen as the part of tenant democracy with the most issues. According to the activists’ opinion, the residents’ needs and wishes are not taken into consideration well enough.
The Audit Committee also found that Heka does not at the moment fully comply with the current Act on Joint Management of Rental Buildings. In practice, the housing committee does not have its right pursuant to the Act on Joint Management of Rental Buildings to decide on the general rules nor the renting and distribution principles for parking spaces, saunas, laundry rooms and similar facilities. Heka justifies this deviation from the legislation by stating that in order to ensure equality, a large company has to have the same rules and justifications for different houses. The Act on Joint Management of Rental Buildings is currently being reformed, and in connection with this, the Audit Committee recommended that Heka’s tenant democracy rule be updated to comply with the law after the reform of the Act on Joint Management of Rental Buildings.
As a positive observation, the Audit Committee noted that Heka applies tenant democracy on a larger scale than would be required by law: Appropriations are allocated for resident activities and the residents are given the opportunity to appoint a residents’ representative for the planning of significant repairs of the buildings in the rent determination unit. Furthermore, Heka pays the members of the tenant democracy bodies meeting fees, starting from the housing committee level.
Home care developed in recent years, but goals not achieved
The aim of the City of Helsinki’s home care has been to strengthen the well-being of employees. Experiences of stress at work and workloads increased to intolerable levels have indeed decreased, and so has the share of those considering changing employers as well as the staff turnover rate. So, there have been positive developments. However, the Audit Committee found that, in many respects, the goals set have not yet been achieved in developing well-being at work or home care in general.
The fact that the goals have not been met has partially been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also worsened the shortage of staff. Due to a lack of Swedish-speaking nursing staff, those within the Swedish-speaking service are also visited by nurses who do not speak Swedish. The Audit Committee recommended that it be ensured that linguistic equality pursuant to the Act on Care Services for the Elderly is achieved and that the service needs assessment of people aged over 75 pursuant to the Social Welfare Act is implemented within the set timeframe. There have been delays in the service needs assessment since autumn 2021.
In addition, the Audit Committee recommended reducing the indirect duties of nurses in charge of home care, expanding the duties of substitutes and applying best practices as widely as possible in various areas. The assessment revealed that the targets set for home care by the city are achieved in some home care units, but not all. However, the differences were not systematic.
Assessment report to be processed by City Council on 22 June
Answerable to the City Council, the Audit Committee is a body whose task is to assess the achievement of the goals set by the City Council. To learn more about the above topics and other topics addressed by the Audit Committee in its 2021 assessment report, please visit arviointikertomus.fi.
The City Council will process the assessment report at its meeting on 22 June 2022.