Winners of the innovation competition announced – focus on preventive services

Published: 12.10.2021 12.25Updated: 13.10.2021 8.39
Winners of the City of Espoo's Mayor's Innovation Competition pose together with Mayor Jukka Mäkelä and other organisers of the competition.Photo: Janne Ketola

This year, the first place in both series of the City of Espoo’s Mayor’s Innovation Competition was shared by two innovations.

The winners of the Innovation series are “Dialogisuuspuu” (Dialogue tree) developed by an expert in the city’s pupil welfare services and “Kuntoutustarpeen arviointi osana terveysasemien pitkäaikaissairaiden määräaikaistarkastuksia” (Assessment of rehabilitation needs as part of the regular check-ups of chronically ill patients at health centres). Both winning teams were awarded a sum of €5,000.

The winners of the Potential Innovations series are “Varhainen lastenpsykiatrinen tuki ongelmien ennaltaehkäisijänä neuvolassa ja varhaiskasvatuksessa” (Early child-psychiatric support at maternity and child health clinics and in early childhood education as a preventive measure) and “Mielenterveystalo-neuvontapiste” (Mental health house information point). Both winners were awarded a sum of €3,000.

Companies and employees equally active

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the City of Espoo’s Mayor’s Innovation Competition. To celebrate the occasion, the competition was opened to companies in addition to city employees.

The applications that made it to the final round emphasised networking cooperation, the well-being of children and young people, the importance of preventive work and participation.

There were a total of 16 applications: eight from companies and eight from employees.

“It was great to see how actively also the companies took part in the competition. We will succeed in renewing our services through cooperation with our partners,” says Mayor Jukka Mäkelä.

Dialogue tree inspires reflection on interaction skills

One of the winners of the Innovation series is the “Dialogue tree” developed by an expert in the City of Espoo’s pupil welfare services. It is a tool that inspires reflection on interaction skills together at a practical level drawing on stories and gamification.

The Dialogue tree describes interaction in the form of a tree with many branches. The model describes the course of discussion, wherein the parties make a contribution in turns, one sentence at a time. Each party always makes their contribution in one of the following three styles: cooperation, confrontation or evasion. In this way, the parties will be able to recognise their own impact on the course of the discussion and how they can always choose how to respond to what the other person is saying.

The Dialogue tree has been extensively tested. Feedback from teachers and pupils describes the strengths of the tool, such as avoiding blaming and having the possibility to do better after an unsuccessful encounter.

The importance of dialogue skills is constantly emphasised in our society. In addition to the school world, the Dialogue tree can be applied to a wide range of operating environments.

Rehabilitation needs to be assessed during regular check-ups at health centres

The other winner of the Innovation series is the “Assessment of rehabilitation needs as part of the regular check-ups of chronically ill patients at health centres” developed by the City of Espoo’s outpatient rehabilitation and health centre operations.

This is a new approach whereby health centre nurses assess the functional capacity of chronically ill patients as part of treatment, in connection with regular check-ups. The aim of the approach is to link nursing and rehabilitation in such a way that the clients’ functional capacity can be supported before problems arise. This way, the drawbacks resulting from illnesses do not get to restrict independent coping in everyday life or mobility.

With this new approach, clients can be steered to the right services at the right time and services provided in an uninterrupted and smooth manner. The usefulness of the innovation is described by a comment from the panel of judges: “Why has this not been done before?”

Mental health house gathers support services under one roof

One of the winners of the Potential Innovations series, “Mental health house”, brings together the actors of the city, organisations, church and private sector as well as volunteers, experience experts and peer support in a new way. The innovation has been developed by the City of Espoo’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. At the moment, the problem is that the services in the field of mental health are scattered.

The Mental health house information point brings together low-threshold mental health services and preventive mental health work provided by the public sector and organisations. The operating model has identified untapped potential.

The innovation responds to the growing demand for mental health services by optimally coordinating them. A client’s need for services is assessed from a perspective of psychosocial support and rehabilitation covering the whole service system. The operating model ensures that the client is steered smoothly and more quickly to the services that best suit them and at the right time. The operating model can be utilised in a variety of ways for different client support and service needs.

Early child-psychiatric support at maternity and child health clinics and day-care centres

The other winner of the Potential Innovations series, “Early child-psychiatric support at maternity and child health clinics and in early childhood education as a preventive measure”, is a form of early support, based on child-psychiatric competence, to be provided at day-care centres and maternity and child health clinics. The model has been developed by the City of Espoo’s Child Psychiatry Unit.

Through the involvement of the employees of the maternity and child health clinics and early childhood education, it is possible to improve the employees’ child-psychiatric competence. This will help to instil new perspectives and practices in preventive work and support. The model has already been in use and feedback has been good.

With the introduction of the new model, early childhood education teams have considered what alternative means and methods could be tried in the case of children manifesting challenging behaviour in order to contribute to the smooth functioning of the entire group of children. A child psychiatric nurse provides support and guidance in everyday situations. It allows educators to see the child behind the challenges and helps employees to understand the phenomena and to interact with the child.

The maternity and child health clinics provide services to almost all families with young children, so the clinics are an excellent place for offering support to the employees that meet the families and directly to the families. In this way, those not reached by the current model can also be steered to other services, if necessary. There is a growing need for such preventive support.

The final round of the Potential Innovations series included five applications. The other finalists, awarded a sum of €500 and an honourable mention, were:

  • The “Yhdessä ylös − Hyvinvointia pala kerrallaan” operating model, in which the city’s empty premises are opened for use by actors supporting the well-being of young people. Developed by the City of Espoo’s Information Point for Immigrants.
  • The “Upe − Uupuvan opettajan opettaja” operating model that addresses coping challenges of teachers struggling with exhaustion through preventive occupational health and safety measures. Developed by Edukeno.
  • The “HÄPPI - Espoolaisten ikioma asukasviihtyvyyttä kehittävä huoltoäppi” gamified and easy-to-use maintenance app that brings issues requiring maintenance measures by the city to the attention of the Urban Environment Sector by involving residents. Developed by Soldeman Oy. 

Espoo innovations have potential to make it to the finals of the national competition

The winners of the City of Espoo’s Mayor’s Innovation Competition received their awards on 12 October 2021.

The Mayor’s Innovation Competition has been organised in cooperation with Excellence Finland since 2012. The competition aimed at the city’s employees, work communities, networks and companies looks for innovations that improve services and make operations more efficient.

The competition applications will also take part in the Quality Innovation Award competition organised by Excellence Finland, in which Espoo participants have performed well in several years at both the national and international level. The results of the national competition will be announced on 11 November 2021.

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