Access to Socio-Cultural Life inside Assisted Care Homes?

Overviewing Legislation in Finland and Kazakhstan

Mariya Riekkinen, Kanat Kozhabek, Aizhan Zhatkanbayeva,  and Pekka Riekkinen


This is a comparative survey of two national legal frameworks in Finland and Kazakhstan providing the elderly in assisted care homes with an opportunity of socio-cultural inclusion. The study departs from the evolving international standards of ageing, which dictate legal obligations to provide the elderly in residential care with access to socio-cultural activities. Our analysis continues with explorations how these standards are reflected in legislation of two selected states. We deliberately selected these two jurisdictions, different in many respects, the most significant of which are the current state of the welfare system and the approach towards elderly care. The residential care in Finland is the primary responsibility of the state, a common modern solution adapted to meet the realities of the modern volatile labor market, career and self-oriented life style and hectic differentiating global economy. In Kazakhstan such care is provided by the state only for those older persons who are in difficult life situation, whereas the able relatives are legally responsible for providing care for the elderly in need of 24 / 7 assistance. Respectively Kazakhstan’s social order relies extensively on family ties.

Our analysis covers the status of the elderly residing both in 24 / 7 institutional care and in the so-called serviced apartments where the elderly are not in constant care. Rather than drawing on the generalized status of dependency we keep up with the premise that the elderly are special-rights holders. This limitation leaves studying the position of other individuals under public custody out of the present research agenda. Relying extensively on legal analysis, we employ, in particular, a comparative law method and empirical studies, i.e. the interviews with the aged rights holders.

After we examined how the opportunities for socio-cultural inclusion of the elderly are implemented in two selected jurisdictions with principally different welfare systems, we found that the problem in question is topical for each of the states under consideration. In light of the evolving international law standards institutional practices in both jurisdictions must be sensitive to the issue of socio-cultural inclusion. The socio-cultural dimension of the wellbeing of the elderly, especially with respect to those who are in 24 / 7 care, should be incorporated in the legal system of Kazakhstan just as it exists in the statutory law of Finland.

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