Family Care of Adults With Intellectual Disabilities: Analysis of Finnish Policies and Practices


Sonja Miettinen, Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Viljatie 4 A, Helsinki 00700, Finland. Tel: +358 9 34809268; E-mail:


Previous research on family care has been criticized for taking the dependence of care recipients for granted. Furthermore, it has been argued that exploring the ways in which this dependence is socially created can benefit care recipients and carers alike. The author explores the ways in which current policies maintain the high prevalence of family care among adults with intellectual disabilities in Finland. A companion study analyzing the Finnish service system for people with intellectual disabilities explored its effects on the practice of family care through interviews of parents of adult children with disabilities. While the provision of community-based housing services has increased in the course of the deinstitutionalization process, it has not been provided adequate funding due to the political pressure to curb the cost of social welfare. Parents respond to these policies using two main strategies: family care and normalization. These strategies draw on different conceptions of parental responsibilities and persons with intellectual disabilities. Government cost containment policies maintain the practice of family care of adults with intellectual disabilities in direct and indirect ways. They restrict access to community-based housing services and by compromising quality, feed the view that the needs of adult children with intellectual disabilities are best met by their parents at home. These policies have implications for they raise concerns among persons with intellectual disabilities and their parents since they both restrict the possibilities of adult children to move away from home and compel parents to adopt long-term care responsibilities, often at great personal cost.