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Social work in the focus of Karelia-Västerbotten exchange

13 february 2020

In 2019-2020 Swedish-Karelian Business and Information Centre is implementing the project “No Limits in Life, follow-up” with the support of the Swedish Centre of the Local Democracy, ICLD. The project is aimed at exchanging experience of social work with partners in Västerbotten county, Sweden. Various activities were held under the project: from practical seminars to a visit to Sweden. This trip is described in the article.

From 20 to 24 January, five specialists of the State budgetary institution “Complex Center for Social Services for the Population of the Republic of Karelia” were staying in Västerbotten county, Sweden. The main goal of this trip was to gain the experience from Swedish colleagues and use it for increasing the level of effectiveness of social services for people living in Karelia.

During the first two days of the trip Karelian specialists were focused on learning about activities of Lycksele commune. They visited the Skyttens nursing home, which provides permanent stay for 40 people and is also used for organization of leisure activities for the visiting senior citizens. Russian guests were surprised at the residential areas in the care home: the rooms were set up as full-fledged apartments with their own kitchen and sanitary room. People moving to a stationary institution can take along all the necessary items including furniture, to help them feel at home.

In the PLAN department, the experts learned about providing home care using the TES information system, which can be used to monitor the timely delivery of services to people in need and receive information on the scope of services provided and the amount of time allocated to each patient. In addition, the system stores information about all employees; this allows to quickly find a replacement for sick workers.

When an old person is no longer able to cope with domestic problems, he\she can contact the municipal home care services. The municipality determines the amount of services for a particular person. Seniors with functional disorders can get 24-hour help and thus many of them have the opportunity to stay at home until the last day of their lives. Home care and medical care can also be provided for seriously ill people.

In the Norrmalm home-care department, specialists found out about modern technologies used by employees to provide home services: a special electronic door lock that can be opened using a special mobile app, video cameras installed in the wards’ apartments in order to monitor their health. During the meeting, employees also extensively described the technology for providing nighttime services — “Night Patrol”.

The next city is Umeå, where representatives of Karelia visited the palliative care centre and met with the staff: nurses and doctors who take care of seriously ill people at home. Karelian group also visited the Hemgarden day-care centre for the elderly, which provides home rehabilitation services to citizens who cannot receive them at medical facilities.

Funktionsrätt Umeå is a networking organization, offering people with disabilities full social access and equal opportunities in all areas of life. The organization works closely with authorities, coordinates public organizations in order to help such people feel fully integrated.

Municipal social center Kom In presented their work with elderly citizens, which is focused on providing conditions for social and physical activities. The center sets up awareness meetings with the staff of various institutions, who may provide senior citizens with useful information, offers premises for musical meetings organized by public organizations and volunteers. In addition, twice a week they offer gym exercises for the elderly, aimed at strengthening, first of all, the leg muscles in order to prevent falling. The center also runs a café, where seniors can chat with each other and get distracted from negative thoughts.

On the last day the Karelian group attended a master class “Methods of lifting and moving patients”. After that, they visited the centre of medical equipment; its information database contains data on 51,000 items of various rehabilitation equipment. The Swedish nursing system allows older people to live a normal and independent life. The health and social well-being of older people is an important component of Swedish public welfare policies.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the study visit turned out to be very successful and intensive. Social care professionals from Karelia got familiar with the professional training system for specialists, were introduced the main models of social services in Sweden, in particular, the activities of residence and accommodation centres for seniors and disabled people. Swedish colleagues also spoke about how they interact with recipients of social services and their relatives, described the system of providing socio-psychological support to the elderly, disabled and caregivers.

Russian specialists were able to exchange with employees of various institutions in Sweden and learn from their experience. Some things were completely new for guests: home-based social services all week, “Night Patrol”, strong inter-agency interaction between healthcare system and social services, precise coordination of actions and a high level of services to citizens, palliative care at home, a huge amount of rehabilitation equipment, individual selection of treatment for each patient, and so on. Such cooperation may help upgrade the social system in Karelia and achieve new standards.

Based on the information provided by the Comlex Center for Social Services to the Population of the Republic of Karelia
Evgeniy Nikolaev, bachelor student, Institute of International relations, Petrozavodsk State University