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Quality and the Finnish Programme to Reduce Long-Term Homelessness


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Presentation given by Taina Hytönen, YSAATIO, Finland at a FEANTSA Conference on "Quality in Social Services from the Perspective of Services Working with Homeless People", Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, 2011

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Quality and the Finnish Programme to Reduce Long-Term Homelessness

  1. 1. Quality and the Finnish programmeto reduce long-term homelessness 1st Workshop Session: Quality criteria – what level of prescription works best Luxembourg 21st October 2011 Taina Hytönen / Y-Foundation
  2. 2. The framework in defining quality• Homeless services? The principle of universal benefits in welfare services covers also homeless people living permanently in the country. Only in a few of the largest cities there are services targeted especially for homeless people.
  3. 3. • National program to Reduce Long-termHomelessness (2008-2011):- By the end of 2011 about 1600 new dwellings builtor renovated for long-term homeless people- State funding for construction + hiring supportpersonnel in 10 largest cities- Conversion of traditional shelters into rentedsupported housing units- Housing first – approach
  4. 4. A challenge for the welfare services• New service consepts matching the needs of long-term homeless people.• New work orientation and methods in support services.• How to guarantee client participation?• How to define quality and measure it?• How to keep the developmental process going on?
  5. 5. Example: The city of Helsinki has used following criteria in buying services for long-term homeless people:• Security of the tenure: living in supported housing is based on a normal lease.• Staff resources: – the minimum in supported housing is 0,12 workers / tenant – in intensively supported housing 0,3 / tenant – in service-accommodation 0,4 / tenant. – 24 hour service is required except in the supported housing if specially agreed.• Qualifications of the staff: – the manager of the service provider must have a university degree in social welfare or health – one qualified nurse per team is the minimum – other staff members must have vocational qualifications in social and health care
  6. 6. • System of quality standards: – quality is evaluated according to: – The ability of the service provider to fulfill the duties mentioned in the service agreement – How the targets in the personal service plans of the clients are reached – the service provider must have a documented quality control system. – the service provider must define its values, policies and system of management. – the quality system must include a description on how the client feedback is collected, processed and documented. This information must be utilized in developing the services. – besides regular reporting the service provider and the city social services will have a follow-up meeting at least once a year to evaluate how the quality standards are reached and how the mutually set developmental projects have been carried out.• Safety: – in every supported housing unit there must be a written safety plan based on a risk assessment of the activities. – the plan must describe safety measures both in the premises and in the neighborhood of the unit. – A safety plan includes also a statutory fire and rescue plan.
  7. 7. • Neighborhood (community) work: A supported housing unit must have a written action plan on how the interaction with the neighborhood is organized (joint meetings, informing and regular follow-up rounds). All feedback from the neighborhood must be processed and replied immediately• Quality of housing The minimum standard for housing in supported and service accommodation is a room with a shower, toilet and a kitchen. Most of the new housing stock consists of fully equipped normal dwellings with room for services and group work in the premises. = prescriptive standards of quality in services for a very vulnerable group of homeless people
  8. 8. Single homeless people in ten largest cities in Finland ARA 2011
  9. 9. Conclusions: Homeless services: different criteria are needed for different services: preventive / emergency / supportive etc. The criteria used in Helsinki can not necessarily be applied everywhere: more flexible solutions can be suitable is smaller cities. Defining criteria is important: how to include inclusion and guarantee the supportive orientation in the work. It is not only setting the criteria: also the follow-up procedure and client feedback are important. There is a lot of confusion and ignorance on the local level about the procedure and (EU & national) regulations on public tendering , SGEI etc. This makes choosing service providers difficult even though there are no real markets in the field in Finland.