What does accessibility mean?
Accessibility is a broad concept, which is defined as follows:
- Physical accessibility of the environment, for example, the accessibility of interior spaces and outdoor areas.
- Information and communication accessibility, which includes accessibility to electronic services.
- Accessibility to services, for example, interaction with personnel and non-discrimination in client encounters.
The most common obstacles to mobility are differences in level, such as stairs and thresholds. Space requirement is important, for example, for those using rollators, in which case passages, doorways, lifts, toilets and reception facilities must be spacious. If walking is difficult, it is important that health centres have sufficient seats where patients can rest. Various push-buttons and service desks should be designed to be able to be used by children, short statured people and wheelchair users.
The accessibility of the service environment is based on communication solutions too. For example, guides written in user-friendly language and induction loops for the hearing-impaired have been located in the premises. The accessibility of services is also improved by the ability of the staff to take different users into consideration. Clients can also have a community interpreter at a health centre to interpret discussions. Community interpretation is needed when a healthcare professional encounters a client with whom they are unable to communicate because of the lack of a mutual language. An appointment can also be made or cancelled by other means than telephoning, such as text messaging.
In Finland, construction is governed by the Land Use and Building Act and the supplementing Decree, which contain the main regulations concerning the built environment. Under the Act, persons with reduced mobility or function must be able to access administrative and service buildings to use their services.
How can I find accessible health services in Finland?
Health centres and hospitals vary considerably with respect to accessibility. Some municipalities provide very detailed information about the accessibility of places of treatment. The website of the City of Helsinki, for example, has published a service map, which provides information about the accessibility of places of treatment. For example, you can search for a health centre which you can access as a wheelchair user with your own car.
The best way to find information about the accessibility of a health centre is to contact the health centre directly.