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Martin Knapp, professor of London School of Economics and Political Science, visited Helsinki invited by Metropolia and DIAK UAS's. We had a short interview after his presentation.
What brought you to Helsinki today?
I came here to give a talk on the event of The Key to Citizenship: participation, self-determination, freedom of choice and support through personal budgeting, particularly focusing on the personal budgets or personalisation and we do a lot of work in social care area at my research center and we have done work on Personal Budgeting, so I am pleased to have chance to share what we have done.
You are of course focused on the UK - to make it short, what is Individual Budgeting?
It is when somebody who is identified to having a social care need, they require some help from the local authority or from the state some way, but instead of the state saying it you will get a homecare worker, the meal service and a day care center, the state might say they give a number of pounds in a week for the individual to decide ghow it will be used.
The individual might say they are not enjoying the day center, and choose to go to the gym or something else instead. They can’t do anything but their choices must be agreed by social worker.
Why is it important for societies to have this individual approach to public funding?
We have to be very careful - we don’t want people to waste tax payers money. We know that many people with social care and other needs have had very little choice in their lives. In the past they were put in to institutions. Until recent day they were told they will get this much day center sessions and this much home care.
So, we are giving them a freedom of choice we would expect in our lives. We are respecting their individual rights. The studies suggest it is a good thing to do. It is better for achieving what people want in their lives and it looks like is also affordable, cost effective. It seems to be a win win situation, a way to allow people to get empowered and at the same time not wasting public money.
What would be your additional advice to Finnish social and health care sector how to start the development?
One thing is to make sure, it is a slow start and a planned start. In the pilot project we evaluated it just suddenly started, systems weren’t right, social workers were not prepared, or the people were not well supported enough to the budgeting.
I think secondly you are offering power, choice and control to people who may have not been having these things much in their lives before. So support them exercise that control.
Third thing is to get the social workers a different way of working with the people, let them make also “mistakes” sometimes, allow them to try things.
Preparing and starting slowly are very important.
In the future: Artificial Intelligence - better than humans?
I’m not very technologically skilled, so bare that in mind, but I see very rapid development in AI and technology generally. The thing in social care is it is by definition a very personal and a very labor intensive service, so if we have a possibility to replacing expensive human resources with intelligent machines, then I think it is worth exploring.
I am not ready to receive personal care delivered by robots but I hear amazing stories about developing robot technologies, especially in Japan. So I think people are trying very hard to develop AI and other technologies which are acceptable. I think by the time I am in the need of care, the robots will be here- but I hope they are the good robots.
More about the project
Text: Milla Hakkarainen, Communications Services