These special services are provided by municipalities. You are entitled to municipal services if you have a residence permit and a municipality of residence in Finland.
You can find more information about the right to a municipality of residence on the InfoFinland page Municipality of residence in Finland.
Hilma, the Support Centre for Disabled ImmigrantsDisabled immigrant's service guideLink redirects to another website
National Institute for Health and WelfareHandbook of Disability ServicesLink redirects to another website
Ministry of Social Affairs and HealthDisability services and auxiliary activitiesLink redirects to another website
Applying for services
You often need a medical certificate to get services for the disabled. Visit your local health centre, for example, for a medical examination. Once you have a doctor's certificate, contact the social services office of your municipality of residence. Municipalities have a social worker who is responsible for the services for disabled persons. You can ask this person for guidance and advice in applying for services. The social services office (sosiaalitoimisto) will make you a service plan (palvelusuunnitelma). Its purpose is to find out what services for disabled persons you can obtain. A decision will be made on the services. You can appeal against the decision if you are not happy with the services provided to you.
Municipalities organise service housing and supported housing for disabled persons who need help and support in housing. Read more on the InfoFinland page Supported and service housing.
Your health centre and central hospital will pay for aids, which are given as medical rehabilitation (lääkinnällinen kuntoutus). This means that you do not have to pay anything for the aids and equipment that you need to manage in your daily life. Such free-of-charge aids include, for example, wheelchairs, hearing aids for the hearing impaired and white canes and guide dogs for the visually impaired.
If you need alteration work in your home, or some disability equipment have to be installed there, your municipality of residence may reimburse you for them. For example, your home can be changed in such a way that it is possible to get about in a wheelchair. Fixed disability equipment include, for example, various types of hoisting equipment and a fire alarm and doorbell for hearing impaired in which sound is replaced by light. The social worker of your municipality’s Office for Disabled Services will estimate together with you whether your home needs alteration work.
Kela may pay for aids that are required for working and studying. You may be provided with aids if you cannot manage work or studying without certain aids or if work or study without them would be very difficult. You can ask at Kela how to get these aids.
National Institute for Health and WelfareDevices for getting aboutLink redirects to another website
If you cannot use public transport because of your disability, you may be entitled to transport service (kuljetuspalvelu). If necessary, this also includes the services of an escort (saattaja) who helps you to travel. The transport services and escort are available for journeys involving work, study or leisure. You can apply for transport service from the social worker of your municipality’s Office for Disabled Services. You will pay a public transport-based charge for the transport service. You may also be entitled to a discount on public transport ticket prices because of your disability. Ask about these at the social services office of your municipality of residence.
Finnish institute of health and welfareTransport service and escort serviceLink redirects to another website
If you require a great deal of help in dealing with your daily life due to your disability, you can be assigned a personal assistant (henkilökohtainen avustaja). The assistant can help you, for example, to cook, go to the shop, at your workplace, in studying or hobbies. Your municipality of residence pays the assistant’s wages. You can apply for assistant services at the social services office of your municipality of residence.
Interpreting for a disabled person is a different matter from interpreting spoken language. You are entitled to use the interpreter services for disabled persons if you have:
- hearing loss, or
- hearing and vision loss, or
- speech impediment
and if you need the help of an interpreter because of your disability
- going to work
- studying after basic studies
- taking care of your affairs
- participation in society
- leisure-time hobbies or recreation.
You can apply for interpreter services for disabled persons from Kela.
If you do not understand Finnish nor Finnish or Finland-Swedish sign language, you may also need another interpreter. Interpreters of sign languages or for speech-impaired persons may not know the communication methods used in other countries, such as different sign languages. Kela will not arrange for a second interpreter.
Always remember to ensure the need for an interpreter when dealing with the authorities. The responsibility for arranging an interpreter belongs to the authority you are dealing with. If you are invited to a health clinic, don’t forget to inform the interpreter of your needs in advance. If you visit the emergency clinic or doctor on your own initiative, you can book an interpreter from Kela.
The Social Insurance Institution of Finland, KelaInterpreter services for the disabledLink redirects to another website
If you have a severe disability or illness and are younger than 65, Kela can arrange medical rehabilitation for persons with severe disabilities (vaativa lääkinnällinen kuntoutus) for you and reimburse some of its costs. You can be given rehabilitation if you have a disability or illness that causes considerable difficulties in your everyday life at home, at your educational establishment or at work. Medical rehabilitation can be organised at a rehabilitation centre or as outpatient therapy, during which you can live at home. The aim of rehabilitation is to help you manage better in your everyday life.
If you are not entitled to Kela's rehabilitation services for persons with severe disabilities, your municipality of residence is responsible for providing rehabilitation services for you. Read more on the InfoFinland page Rehabilitation.
A child with a severe disability may also be eligible for medical rehabilitation for persons with severe disabilities (vaativa lääkinnällinen kuntoutus).
The Social Insurance Institution of Finland, KelaIntensive Medical RehabilitationLink redirects to another website
The Social Insurance Institution of Finland, KelaApplying for medical rehabilitationLink redirects to another website
Disabled child at school
A disabled child has the right to go to school in his or her local school. A disabled child may be given special needs teaching if his or her disability makes learning difficult. A child can also have a school assistant (koulunkäyntiavustaja) if necessary.
Kela can pay for expensive and demanding equipment (apuvälineet) that a disabled child needs for school. Such equipment can be given if a child cannot or finds it very difficult to study without them. A child can have such aids at the earliest when he or she is in the seventh grade of comprehensive school.
Leisure activities for a disabled child
You can find information on different hobbies in your neighbourhood, for example, at the Sports and Culture Department of your municipality. Disability organisations also organise many hobbies and activities. For example, the Finnish Paralympic Committee’s Sporttiklubi organises various sports and exercise events.
Special services for persons with mental disabilities
Special services for persons with mental disabilities include:
- housing services
- care in family surroundings
- care in an institution
- work activities and daytime activities.
Housing services (asumispalvelu) means that persons with mental disabilities can live in an apartment where they can get various kinds of help and support. Read more on the InfoFinland page Supported and service housing.
Care in family surroundings (perhehoito) means that the person’s treatment, education, upbringing and care take place in a private home outside his/her own home. This is a very suitable form of housing for a person with mental disabilities who requires treatment. This can be either a temporary or a more permanent arrangement. Care in family surroundings can also be provided in the home of the person who requires treatment.
If a person with mental disabilities requires care at all times and cannot be given it at home or in a service apartment, he/she can also live in an institution (laitos). Living in an institution can also be temporary.
Municipalities organise work activities and daytime activities for disabled persons. Work activities (työtoiminta) include light work. Daytime activities (päivätoiminta) are intended for severely disabled persons who cannot participate in work activities. They may include cooking, exercise, discussion and making excursions.
The Databank for the Care of the Mentally Disabled (Kehitysvammahuollon tietopankki) on the internet contains a great deal of useful information about mental disabilities and services for the disabled. This service is provided in Finnish.