Joint working heads up agendas across Europe

    Working towards partnership in provision of services is a common
    theme throughout Europe.

    Delegates heard accounts of social care from countries including
    Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the UK and Finland. All
    emphasised the benefits of joint working.

    “Hungary had no shelters, no day care centres and no care
    services in 1998. There was no prevention and no professionalism,”
    said Katalin Talyigas founder of the country’s Social Innovation
    Foundation.

    “We’ve had to learn to work together with users and volunteers,
    and to work at the relationship between them and professionals. Now
    for everybody, social care is an option.”

    Bob Hudson, research fellow at the Nuffield Institute for
    Health, told delegates that joint working was still tentative in
    the UK.

    He said that most local authorities were still testing the
    waters, using joint working strategies on a few projects to see if
    they worked, before rolling it out across the board.

    “Removing legal obstacles has not kick-started flexible
    working,” he said. “Relatively few are doing it. To say the
    Department of Health is dissatisfied with this would be an
    understatement. I’d say [secretary of state for health] Mr Milburn
    is livid,” he added.

    Much of Finland has had joined up health, social care and
    children’s primary care services for 20 years, the director of
    social services and health care in one large Finnish town said.

    Juha Metso added: “In the beginning, it was a political thing to
    have them together, but now it’s practical.” His town, Espoo, has
    had health and social services in partnership since 1993. “The
    needs of the population are so challenging that, to be successful,
    we need all the partners available.”

    Lilia Dimova, director of the Agency for Social Analyses in
    Bulgaria, said social workers were in a difficult position in her
    country and were generally mistrusted because they had to
    distribute benefits. “Their position is stuck in between government
    policy and people’s needs and expectations,” she said.

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