Moving safely on the interfaces – the Deaconess Foundation’s intensive treatment


For over 30 years the  Deaconess Foundations (DF) in Helsinki child and family services have developed special services for child protection, which provide support for children and families displaying a wide range of adverse symptoms. The intensive treatment method has proven to be an efficient and cost effective form of treatment. The special character of the treatment is its multiprofessional work, combining child protection, and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Chalk drawings on the street.

The benefits of the integrative method is detailed in a report published in March 2017, “Turvallista liikettä rajapinnoilla – Helsingin Diakonissalaitoksen intensiivihoito” (Moving safely on the interfaces – the Helsinki Deaconess Institute’s intensive treatment).

When children and their families suffer from wide ranging and interwoven neuropsychiatric problems, they need comprehensive and multiprofessional treatment. But these needs of these children and families have only recently been recognized.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health highlighted development goals for child and family services in its key programme, which are very similar to those already implemented by the DF’s child and family services.

Services Area Director Leena Leppänen explains: “There are many children, adolescents and families with widespread symptoms, but often treatment and rehabilitation remain one-sided and inadequate. Often, they require both child protection and psychiatric help, but the mismatch of services is big challenge.  With the Deaconess Institute’s intensive treatment, health care has been introduced into child protection as its own unit for families to receive comprehensive treatment.”

Intensive treatment is efficient and cost effective

Intensive treatment in the Uusimaa region has been practically the only model available whereby children and adolescents can receive comprehensive treatment. At its core are the integration of health and social care, multiprofessional work and personal nursing developed long term. The quality of the treatment and its effectiveness have been studied thoroughly, and the outcomes have been positive

The Moving safely on the interfaces report also highlights the costs of intensive treatment. It compares intensive treatment to two other types of service, of which intensive treatment over the treatment duration was to some extent more expensive. On the other hand, long-term assessment revealed that intensive treatment carries significant cost benefits.

“The comprehensive nature of the treatment concerning both children and families, and the multiprofessional work are important in terms of cost benefits. Using them makes it possible for 48% of children to return to their own families following treatment. Overall costs drop dramatically after the institutional treatment y, and in the long run intensive treatment is cheaper than their alternatives, “says Leppänen.

A direct purchase agreement made in 2016 with the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District indicates the verified quality and effectiveness of the DF’s intensive treatment. In practice, it has been approved as a provider of special medical care in child protection. This is a unique integration of social and health services in the field of Finnish child protection.

The reform of the Finnish social welfare and health care system (known as the Sote reform) could benefit more widely from the possibilities offered by the integrated treatment model. For instance, the model provides the scope for developing a rich range of teamwork, and for deepening inpatient care and therapeutic personal nursing, home-based care and ensuring the continuity of treatment in follow-up outpatient care.

Turvallista liikettä rajapinnoilla – Helsingin Diakonissalaitoksen intensiivihoito (Moving safely on the interfaces – the Helsinki Deaconess Institute’s intensive treatment).  Available only in Finnish

Edited by
Timo Pasanen, Psychologist, DPhil, Psychoanalyst
Kati Katajamäki, Neuropsychologist, Specialist psychologist, Licentiate of Philosophy (Psychology)
Sinikka Martikainen, Physician in Charge, Child Psychiatry Specialist Physician, Child Psychotherapist
Maarit Valkonen, Immediate Supervisor, Bachelor of Social Services
Leena Leppänen, Service area director, Bachelor of Social Services

Rinnekodit is responsible from 1.2.2023 for services for children and young people. 

Further information

Leena Leppänen, Service Area Director

Timo Pasanen, Psychologist

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