Service integration can produce positive outcomes for users, carers and the organisations involved, as it can create the conditions for services to provide a comprehensive person-centred approach and respond more quickly and effectively to users’ needs. Services integration can avoid the duplication of tasks and share back-office tasks, such as human resources and technology solutions.
The demand for social services is increasing because of rising needs driven by demographic changes, the economic and social consequences of the crisis, technological developments, changing social patterns and more complex needs. This has also meant an increase in services diversity driven by users’ demands. In this context, there has been an increasing focus in the need to ensure a greater cooperation between services in order to improve their efficiency (processes/outputs) and the outcomes for service users. ESN has contributed to this work with a review of the concept of integrated services, identification of practices with a number of target groups, a seminar on the topic and through the publication of a report with evidence from across Europe.
Our 2015 seminar ‘Integrated Services: Working together to improve lives’ brought together over 100 delegates from ESN member organisations and external participants from across Europe. We discussed different local and regional models of integrated social services in cooperation with various sectors such as education, employment, and health. This event also provided the venue to discuss a draft of the Integrated Services report, which ESN co-authored with the Dutch research institute Vilans. The report is based on a literature review, an assessment of practices, policy analysis, and features a set of recommendations for policy-makers, practitioners, and researchers.
In February 2013, the European Commission adopted the Social Investment Package (SIP), which highlights that social services play a pivotal role in ensuring effective and efficient social protection, and are a smart and sustainable investment since they have a preventive, activating and enabling function. The SIP stresses in particular the critical role of high quality, integrated and personalised services in developing people's skills and capabilities, improving their opportunities and helping them make the most of their potential throughout the life course. ESN highlights that social services are not only a safety net, but a key and integral part of any productive society and, therefore, fundamental in any social investment approach.
- ESN seminar 'Integrated Services: Working together to improve lives' - Delegate pack
- 'Integrated social services in Europe: A study looking at how local public services are working together to improve people's lives' - an ESN report.
- European Commission & Budapest Institute: Literature review and identification of best practices on integrated social service delivery (Part I)
- European Commission & Budapest Institute: Literature review and identification of best practices on integrated social service delivery (Part II - Country case studies)