Transport Services to be developed based on an audit
Transport Services provides transport in accordance with the Disability Services Act and the Social Welfare Act in the Espoo area. There have been problems with the services of Transport Services, and in spring 2021, a decision was made to audit the service. The audit was conducted between 7 May and 1 August 2021 by an external operator, CAP-GROUP Oy / Cap Pro Academy.
The aim of the audit was to determine whether the operations of Transport Services comply with the agreements and the service description. The audit covered the operator, transport companies, drivers and the City of Espoo. In addition to this, a random sample of clients was selected for interviews. The audit involved 34 transport companies and 109 clients, 34 of which agreed to be interviewed.
The audit of the transport companies and drivers was carried out by conducting interviews, monitoring the activities and having various tasks performed. In addition to this, the transport companies responded to an electronic questionnaire.
The audit identified areas for development. Client satisfaction is fairly evenly split between those who recommend the service and those who criticise it. The main areas for development in the client experience were the drivers’ language skills, local knowledge and handling and fastening of aid equipment. These areas for development were also identified during the driver audit and can be improved through guidance and training. In order to develop operations, it is useful to discuss any areas for development and measures to be taken with the clients, but in such a way that the objectives set for the operations are achieved.
Some shortcomings were found in the operational activities of the dispatch centre and the product development of the dispatch system. The main area for development was the waiting time for calls to the dispatch centre during peak times. In the future, the dispatch centre’s resources must be scaled more appropriately and the availability of the Swedish-language service at peak times must be ensured. Another area that should be developed is the consistency of the handling of complaints and their processing times.
Qualitative challenges for Transport Services have been posed by the slow implementation of changes to the system. Dialogue with the operator has been good, but the agreed on areas for development and schedules should be better adhered to. This is important to keep clients and stakeholders informed and develop activities within the agreed time frame.
Abusive practice must be addressed
The audit revealed abusive practice. We, the City of Espoo, need to pay more attention to service contracts with different parties in the future and address possible shortcomings more clearly, so that abuses are eliminated. Processes must also be clarified.
The availability of vehicles should be ensured and abuses, such as refusing a driving task or disconnecting the system, should be addressed.
There were also findings of abuse of the transport service by clients. The services of Transport Services are intended for transport related to work, studies and errands. However, the service has been used for journeys covered by Kela’s travel cost reimbursement scheme. The audit also raised suspicions about so-called ‘ghost rides,’ the addresses of which were questionable given the client’s profile.
At present, feedback and contacts relating to the transport service are received directly by a wide range of parties. This slows down the processing of issues and responding to clients and takes resources away from development and the remediation of problems, among other things. The service must emphasise the provision of feedback through the designated channels.
Differences in driver skills
The vehicles inspected were generally clean and in good condition. The shortcomings identified were addressed immediately and corrected during the audit. The FA1 training and participation in information sessions organised by the City of Espoo required of the staff of the transport companies were at a poor level. Some drivers had a strong grasp of their job, but others had shortcomings or outdated knowledge.
In the assessment, the drivers’ driving skills were at a good level. However, according to the clients’ feedback, some drivers do not drive in a way that is suitable for transporting people with special needs. Transport must always take into account the client’s profile information, instructions and requests to ensure that the client receives appropriate and safe service.
Resources and training to be increased
The final summary of the audit concludes that the operations of Transport Services are at a good level. The above-mentioned areas for development and their systematic implementation will develop the operations to a level satisfactory to all parties.
With regard to the areas for development identified in the audit report, development has started and improvements have been made. The contracts stipulate that the operator is responsible for training the drivers. Nevertheless, we have began to prepare common training for the drivers. The operator has increased resourcing and has paid attention to shift planning. We will also clarify the instructions to our clients on the purpose of the service.
- Transport Services