innoserv_webLast week Eurodiaconia participated in the final conference in Paris of the research project INNOSERV – in which two Eurodiaconia members are partners. Over the last two years, the project partners that included academic researchers, European and national NGOs, worked together to define and explore innovation in the social service sector with the final aim of setting a research agenda to promote positive developments in social services across Europe.

One part of the debate examined the role of innovation in social services, and whether it should be a topic of focus at all. Speakers agreed that it was a tool, not an aim in itself, and was one way to create “value”. There was consensus that the aim of innovating was to better meet needs, provide quality services and assure dignity and fundamental rights. The need to ensure a strong social infrastructure was also stressed.

A number of case studies were presented. One was the French government agency for public sector modernisation, whose work includes improving and innovating processes run by the govermnemt. Following research engaging people using the benefit system they redesigned the process through which people go through to access benefits in order to improve take up. They were able to simplify and humanise the process through a co-creation process using a tool known as “customer journey mapping”. The video here under was shown about an Austrian organisation which trains people with disabilities to evaluate user satisfaction and quality of life through peer-to-peer approach.

Eurodiaconia member Church City Mission Olso also features in a video about their open nursing home Ammerud – you can view that here:

As stated by Dr. Prof. Johannes Eurich (project coordinator) from the Institute for the Study of Christian Social Service—Diakoniewissenschafltiches Institut, member of Diakonie Deutschland, “the research focused on social service innovations which help to improve people’s life and promote a fair and sustainable model of society in times of rapid social changes”. The proposals for a future research agenda, which vary from from outcome measurement to use of ICT. Eurodiaconia commented that as well as identifying success factors for the transferability of innovations, success factors in creating a “culture” of innovation, processes or structures for innovation and service development should also be examined.

The research findings and proposals for future research based on these findings can be found here.

Eurodiaconia is planning a meeting for members on the topic of innovation in social services in May. Further information will be available soon. For questions on this topic please contact