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Why was the practice needed?

In Finland, some minority groups are too small to be adequately captured in large-scale population surveys. Furthermore, due to insufficient data disaggregation, it is often not possible to analyse intersectional and multiple discrimination of the groups surveyed.

The National Discrimination Monitoring Group (see related practice in this compendium) has drawn up a four-year plan for collecting data covering different aspects of discrimination and inequalities in the areas of employment, education, access to justice, social services and healthcare. In a context of scarce resources, this plan aims to ensure regular data collection regarding the main grounds of discrimination in key areas of life and at the same time allow for in-depth analysis of specific issues of interest.

In accordance with this four-year plan, the Ministry of Justice conducted a small-scale qualitative study which hones in on the experiences of discrimination among elderly people from minority groups in the area of health and social services. The objective of the research was to enhance the comprehensiveness of equality data related to elderly people, in particular from minority groups.

It also served as a basis for policy recommendations to improve the services in place for this population groups. This is the first study carried out on this specific target group in Finland.

How was it implemented?

Under the supervision and guidance of the National Discrimination Monitoring Group, the contractor Referenssi Oy set out to measure the kind of discriminatory situations elderly people from minority groups experience. These groups were defined by their ethnic origin (especially the Roma and the Sámi people), disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or language (especially the Swedish speaking national minority and people with immigrant background speaking a foreign language as their mother tongue). It also set out to capture the extent to which these discriminatory situations are reported to authorities.

The study comprises of three sections: an overview, an empirical part and a commentary.

The overview discusses current relevant equality legislation and general issues related to non-discrimination. It also presents available data on discrimination from various supervisory authorities and discusses challenges in collecting such data.

The empirical part focuses on the personal experiences of discrimination encountered by elderly people from each minority group concerned. In addition, it includes insights from civil society organisations and people working in elderly care about risk factors for discrimination.

The commentary part of this study presents the conclusions, discusses possible reasons behind the differences in discrimination between the groups and evaluates the functioning of the discrimination monitoring system. It also puts forward recommendations to policymakers for future development.

For the purposes of this study, researchers reviewed a total of 374 original complaint documents of two regional state administrative agencies. In addition, researchers had access to complaints submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman for Minorities. Analysis of complaints held by other supervisory authorities was based on secondary sources, such as other studies, annual reports and statistics from the supervisory authorities themselves, and case descriptions available on the internet.

The data presented in the empirical part were gathered by interviewing 144 elderly people, their relatives and specialists in the field. The interviews were conducted both individually and in groups. In order to attract respondents, the study was widely publicised by civil society organisations, on the internet, at discussion forums and via newspapers.

Alongside the interviews, people’s experiences were mapped using the narrative method. Researchers invited the target group to share their own experiences in a story-telling format through adverts in various outlets. Elderly people and the relatives of elderly people wrote six narratives, which provided important qualitative information.

In addition, researchers interviewed 47 elderly care professionals and representatives of civil society organisations.


  • The study report including an abstract in English - The findings indicate that identifying cases of multiple discrimination on the basis of official data is very difficult. No public authority systematically records the ages of people filing complaints, so sampling on the basis of age is not possible, either. However, the empirical data collected for the purposes of this study reveal that a large number of elderly people have experienced discrimination in social and healthcare services.

Key success factors

  • Building a productive and trustful relationship with the different actors involved with the target group as it was hard to reach the target group led to a good sample of respondents. These relations were not only built during the study, but they developed further through a long-term cooperation process within the Discrimination Monitoring Group.

Technical information

  • Data sources covered: Victimisation surveys; Qualitative research.
  • Areas of life covered: Health; Social Protection.
  • Target audience: Professionals in healthcare and social services, public authorities, non-discrimination professionals, NGOs, policymakers, and politicians
  • Duration: 2014
  • Geographical scope: National
  • Leading institution: Ministry of Justice
  • Other organisations involved/consulted: Referenssi Oy (the contractor); ministries, ombudsmen’s offices, human rights NGOs, NGOs representing different minority groups, such as Sámi Soster, Finnish Roma Association, and Sondip ry
  • Financial & human resources: Budget: €35,000; Source of the budget: State budget; Staff: 0.1 Full Time Equivalent (FTE)


The Ministry of Justice / Oikeusministerio

Email: Yhdenvertaisuus (dot) om (at) om (dot) fi