The elderly care must be renewed. The sector has problems with staff shortage and overwhelming workload among staff. Self-managing work teams is an alternative that has been successful in the social and health care sector for both employees and clients. Now this model has been tested in care for the elderly in a Finnish context.

The Arcada project has tested self-managing in home care and in care homes for the elderly, and how it has affected the well-being of staff and clients. The idea is that the care team is both self-managing and self-organising. The decision making, which concerns everything from administration and care needs to holiday schedules and office spaces, takes place collectively but with support of a manager.

-Self-managing has yielded good results in other sectors and is growing rapidly. We saw that this can fundamentally could change services for the elderly, but so far there have been very few studies in the area. Our study shows that self-managing teams work particularly well in care homes, says Jukka Surakka, head of research at the Department of Health and Welfare at Arcada.

The teams in the study were positively affected in several ways. The staff members’ energy increased, the team spirit was strengthened and work well-being increased. The representants of the municipalities emphasised that the teams' attitudes to the clients’ experience of the care homes and home care gained new significance when the teams themselves saw that they could directly improve the clients’ experience.

-The results are encouraging and show that self-management can clearly increase motivation among employees and client well-being. This was reflected in the interviews we conducted, but we also saw a clear decline in, for instance, the number of sick leave days. This indicates that there is a financial interest in increasing self-managing in elderly care, says project group member Thommie Burström from Hanken.

The project was led by Arcada University of Applied Sciences and carried out in collaboration with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), LUT University, South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences and Hanken School of Economics. The project has been founded by The Finnish Work Environment Fund and the Lindstedt foundation. The project report is openly available (in Finnish).

Press release