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The annual European Social Services Awards (ESSA) are this year celebrating innovation and excellence on the theme of ‘Person-centred Care.’ The 2023 Awards will shine a spotlight on successful person-centred approaches and the extraordinary ongoing work of social services and partners to place the goals, values and preferences of the person at the centre in the development and provision of care and support.

By the end of June, over 100 organisations from 32 countries had nominated projects hoping to be recognised by the social services community across Europe. The number and diversity of applicants demonstrates the importance of this topic in the crucial role social services play as a safety net for the most vulnerable in our societies.

Importance of person-centred care

In the age of rapid technological advancement and customisation, there are rising expectations for interactions with social services to be efficient and personalised. At the same time, the needs social services are facing are becoming increasingly complex and diverse requiring a response that is tailored around the person.

Every day, social services are responding to this demand by adapting their organisations, practices, and systems to take into account the social and personal characteristics, potential barriers, as well as their skills and personal qualities in the delivery of care and support. This will ensure people receive information they need in a way that is accessible for them and are empowered to make decisions for their care and support.

A variety of approaches

The range of applications highlights the variety of approaches social services are taking to ensure a person-centred delivery of their services. From social activities for those facing social exclusion strengthening their ties to the community to integrated multidisciplinary support services for older people ensuring all their needs are met and they can live as independently as possible in their own homes.

Several projects also focus on how to empower the workforce to deliver person-centred care through training and learning modules. Other applications promote collaborations or research that led to person-centred delivery. Lastly, some projects are about using digital transformation and technology to provide person-centred care, such as apps to provide vital information to homeless people or harnessing virtual reality to boost the communication and social skills of autistic adults.

Next steps

All applications will be evaluated by our panel of expert judges, selected to reflect the diversity of the European Social Network community by achieving a balance of gender, countries, different social services, sectors, levels of government, seniority, and expertise of the theme.

The final shortlist will be assembled in September, to be put to an online public vote in October. Stay tuned on ESN twitter or LinkedIn so that you can cast a vote for your preferred project when the online vote is opened!

The winners will be revealed at the ESSA ceremony hosted by the City of Zagreb on 16 November. Join us there for an evening of celebrating social services and for a second day networking event on 17 November which includes opportunities for exchange and mutual learning. Find out more on the ESSA website here!