When you are a foreigner in the country, it seems like you have to be always grateful and happy. Do we have a right to be critical? Can we nag about things that do not work? I received a few comments after my quite narrow criticism about the health care system in our municipality. Some of them said I should not be so open and keep my thoughts to myself. And my question is why?
If whatever system doesn’t work, people should receive feedback. My blog was emotional but not wrong. It was about sharing experiences, which is very different from feedback. But I also contacted our municipality and the health care provider with proper feedback. They deserve to know. Because they are the only ones who can change the system. Few Finns with whom I talked about the whole situation said themselves, that the health care system in Finland does not work properly and it has been getting worse in recent years.
Those who can afford it, have private health care. Who are then those, who visit public health services? Probably elderly people or people from low-income families or people who thought that in the welfare state you should get the proper care in the public system too… Are those people going to complain? I don’t think so.
Without proper feedback and quality evaluation, nothing will ever change. All the groups (and more) mentioned above are exactly people, whose’s opinions we lack in so many services and service designs. Even the simple web pages of health care providers are designed from the perspective of a healthy, skilful native speaker. Letters are small, language complicated and navigation through different online tools is just useless for people without user skills.
So, when I complain, it’s not only about me. I am pointing out the designs and gaps in the system that are probably problematic for many who are not representatives of the majority. Yes, all those who do not visit private care, all those who might be from various marginalised groups. Because deep in my heart I believe we should be ruthless with the system, but kind to the people. And if no one speaks about things that do not work, how the stakeholders would even know? I am not naive, I know my single feedback will not change anything. Maybe if all those people who are critical of public health services will complain, that might be a different story…
We have every right to be ourselves and to demand proper services. I behave as I would be behaving in my home country. When I am happy, I send a positive message. If I am not, I am critical. The fact I am not native has nothing to do with it. I had rolled my eyes in Slovakia too when people were saying e.g.: “But our hospitals are better than the ones in…”; “Our education is still better than schools in…” And the funny fact was, they always chose to compare Slovakia (one of the richest countries on the world) with one of the poorest. If something, we should be comparing ourselves with the best ones, not the other way round.
And this seems to be a challenge for Finland too. Yes, I can say the schools are generally better in Finland than in Slovakia, but why we are not comparing Finland with other good school systems, with even better results? The hospitals are generally better in Finland than in Slovakia, but why this should comfort me? Finland has its own challenges and should be aiming for the best possible outcomes.
So, I would say I will complain, I will give feedback, I will be critical, and I will be thankful. Everything appropriately to the situation. Because I live here and I care for this country. And additionally, I also think I am no second-class citizen and I deserve good service too.