Health Organization delegation visits Service Centre

Published: 18.5.2022 10.25Updated: 25.5.2022 13.45
Customer Service Director Kirsi Remes showed the Iso Omena Service Centre to Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, and Aki Lindén, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services.Photo: Ulla-Kaisa Pihlaja

The work of the City of Espoo to promote wellbeing and health was introduced to a distinguished audience on Friday when a group led by Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO Regional Director for Europe, toured the Iso Omena Service Centre as guests of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the City of Espoo.

The tour was part of a visit during which Dr Hans Kluge and Aki Lindén, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, discussed the impact of the war in Ukraine on health and health cooperation in Europe, preparedness and response to health crises, resilience, the economy of wellbeing, digital health and innovations.

The tour provided information on the ongoing cooperation in Espoo to promote health and wellbeing, for which the city has strong structures and operating models. The priorities of the Welfare Report and Plan 2022–2025 supporting the implementation of the Espoo Story were also discussed as a topical issue.

Public services from health care to employment services

At the Service Centre, the cooperation and work of several different public services to promote health and wellbeing is present every day, as various sectors of the City of Espoo, central government and Helsinki University Hospital offer their services in a one-stop shop to a customer they all share. The everyday life of Espoo residents is made easier when the services are easily accessible, located along good public transport connections in a place where the people are, with longer opening hours than before.

The City of Espoo and its partners have developed the Service Centre as a customer service path, carefully considering efficiency and productivity. Sharing equipment, social premises, meeting rooms and waiting areas for customers has improved wellbeing and achieved savings.

“People can also just spend time at the Service Centre without using any of the services. We want to prevent exclusion and offer lonely people places to meet other people and be part of the community,” says Kirsi Remes, Customer Service Director.

Information Point for Immigrants strengthens services further

The latest example of the Service Centre’s multi-professional and customer-oriented services is the Information Point for Immigrants, where foreign-speaking Espoo residents can ask for help in all everyday matters, such as daycare, study and work, health and wellbeing issues and social services. The Information Point also helps in dealing with authorities in several languages.

“At the Service Centre, we can react proactively to the customer’s needs, prevent problems from piling up and reduce the need for more intensive services. Our goal is not only to create wellbeing for individuals, but also to save public tax money,” says Sanna Svahn, Director of Social and Health Services.

“The visitors were impressed by this person-centred and customer-oriented way to develop services and desire to make services as accessible as possible,” Remes says.

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The Iso Omena Service Centre opened in August 2016. The Service Centre has been extremely popular since its opening, with more than 1.5 million customers a year. A second, smaller service centre was later opened in Espoo in the local centre of Kalajärvi. The service centre concept won the Espoo Mayor’s Innovation Competition in 2017. Today, there are also service centres following the Espoo service centre concept elsewhere in Finland, including Lahti.

  • Service centres
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