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Personal assistants deserve their own education

There are at least 25 000 personal assistants currently employed in Finland. They make the daily life of disabled persons easier, work as their hands, eyes, ears and feet.

However, there is no generally accepted education for the job, writes JHL Bargaining Officer Veikko Lehtonen in the JHL blog . But there is a big need for it, he adds.

Many educational institutions have built their own education and training for personal assistants. This is a positive thing, but has led to a situation where some 30 institutions are providing their own education without a joint curriculum or goals.

The Finnish National Board of Education is now planning special education which would make it possible to obtain a qualification as a personal assistant. This would be an important step, Lehtonen writes.

Veikko Lehtonen can see many reasons why a new professional examination is needed. The main reason is that the field of tasks for personals assistants is very broad. The work is based on the needs of the person assisted and therefore the work can include a really wide variety of tasks.

A recognised qualification would provide a good basis for coping with this variety, Lehtonen believes.

It is also important that the personal assistant is familiar with the legislation and the ethical guidelines connected to this work. Furthermore, it helps if a personal assistant knows something about the most common chronic diseases and disablements he or she may encounter in this job.

The personal assistant invariably works alone, without colleagues. With a qualification a personal assistant learns to take into account the special needs of this situation.

JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors is running a special project to help, empower and organise personal assistants. One part of it is a special web site www.henkilokohtaisetavustajat.fi designed for them.

Heikki Jokinen

Read more:
New forms of advocacy for personal assistants  (28.02.2017)