The experience expert brings a down-to-earth voice to family centre planning

Published: 20.4.2021 11.04Updated: 8.10.2021 12.01

Family centre brings together all the social and health services needed by families with children. It offers practically everything a family may need in different life situations. The services have been designed in Western Uusimaa for local needs and with a clients-first approach.

Planning with clients

The planning of family centre activities has been brought closer to practice and the client, for example by involving children, young people and families in the development activities.

Pirkko is a social counsellor who works as an instructor for persons with intellectual disabilities. She has acted as a voice of families before in Espoo social services. When the client’s point of view was needed in developing the family centres, she was invited to participate. Pirkko was eager to accept the position of an experience expert, which she considers an important responsibility.

The experience expert is an interpreter between families and planners 

Pirkko has served in the family centre preparatory group as a voice of families and residents. 

“Having a family myself, I understand how important it is to have easy access to services when you need them. When my own children were young, the situation was different. The threshold for seeking help was high, the services were located in different parts of the municipality, and there was no one place to call. The family centre is a big thing and I find this work very interesting,” says Pirkko.

Pirkko’s role as an experience expert has included acting, as Project Manager Sanna Nieminen described it, as a ‘sheet anchor’, having discussions and commenting on, for example, the content of the operating model. One of Pirkko’s most important tasks has been acting as an interpreter between project jargon and everyday experience. Pirkko has wondered what it means to an ordinary family, for example, to have a ‘respectful encounter’ or ‘participation’. Fancy terms need to be clarified so that they mean the same thing to everyone.

“Sometimes in a working group, one becomes blind to jargon that might confuse the client. Pirkko raises these issues wonderfully and openly,” says Sanna Nieminen.  

Valuable experience on both sides

When the group does preparatory work, Pirkko comments and adds her own observations. The next item on the agenda will be comments on the family centre management model. Pirkko says her experience in the task has been wonderful and valuable:

“It has become clear to me that family centre activities mean that the family gets all the services they need under the same umbrella. No more running around to get the services they need here and there. I see the future family centre as a safe place with wonderful staff, where you can go on a very low threshold,” says Pirkko.

Family centre activities are already well underway in many municipalities, and all the municipalities in Western Uusimaa are involved in the development work. Nieminen estimates that comprehensive family centre services will be provided throughout the region around 2025. 

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