In the autumn of 2020 the city of Jyväskylä, in central Finland, decided to bring homecare services back in-house in three areas where they had been outsourced to private providers. Outsourcing hadn’t delivered the expected benefits and it was important for the insourcing process to run smoothly with minimal disruption for service users and efficient, high quality service delivery right from the outset.
The project covered 30 care staff working each day, including 4 community nurses and it was decided that once they were brought in-house, they would operate as self-managing, integrated teams. As is common with self-managing teams, instead of having dedicated coordinators, planning would be the responsibility of the carers along with their regular care duties. The carers didn’t have any prior experience of planning and would have to create schedules for 30 full-time staff each day. However, instead of planning manually it was decided that they would use R2 Homecare Optimisation.
A smooth transition to a new way of working
Before the teams were transferred in-house, R2 Optimisation was used to model alternative operational models; This was done to determine the best work patterns to use, the share of responsibility within the integrated teams, the number of workers needed, the effect of changes to care plans, and also formed the framework of the schedules which would be taken into operational use. This made for a smooth transition for insourcing and taking R2 into operational use since management and carers had already agreed on the new operational model and were satisfied that their individual interests were taken into account.
R2-Optimisation was taken into operational use in October and continues to be used today. Carers take turns to use R2, and creating schedules (or ‘routes’, as we often call them) for 30 carers takes around 2 hours per day. This includes updating clients’ care-plan data and handling unforeseen carer absences. Handling unplanned absences is very quick with R2; If a carer is absent their visits can be re-allocated and updated schedules delivered to carers’ mobiles within 15 minutes.
Self-managing teams are used to give carers a sense of control and responsiveness along with the nuance enabled by local knowledge. Homecare manager, Sanna Liljeroos, commented that R2 Optimisation has helped achieve these goals. “Carers like the schedules and measures of service quality are clearly the highest out of the whole city”.
An additional benefit of R2 is that it can be used by anybody, from facing carer to senior manager. This ensures an open and constructive dialogue at all levels when discussing issues such as care planning, workload or the need for additional staff where all parties, including senior management, can present concrete and actionable alternatives for how to work and organise the teams.
R2-Optimisation delivers on promises
From homecare management’s perspective, R2 Optimisation is a tool to ensure overall efficiency of service delivery and fulfilment of quality objectives. Maarit Raappana, head of elderly peoples’ services in the City of Jyväskylä, states that “R2 Optimisation delivers what was promised”.