Front page » News » NHG supported the Finnish Heart Association in improving the implementation of their Smart Family method in Europe


NHG supported the Finnish Heart Association in improving the implementation of their Smart Family method in Europe

The Smart Family method is a Finnish model that offers knowledge, support, tools and materials both for professionals and families regarding lifestyle choices.  Professionals can use the method in lifestyle counselling providing information and encouragement to families willing to change their habits.  The model developed by the Finnish Heart Association has been recognized as an EU best practice method and the aim is to expand it to other EU countries and customer groups. To support the further implementation of the model, Nordic Healthcare Group (NHG) created in collaboration with the Finnish Heart Association and its European partners a framework for the implementation as a pro bono project.

Picture: Sydänliitto/Anna Kara

The Smart Family method is a preventive model that aims to promote the health and well-being of children and families and prevent cardiovascular and chronic diseases. It covers different themes, such as food, exercise, rest, screen time and body image. Its core aim is to encourage families to identify their strengths and help them make healthier choices. The method is intended for professionals working with families in different environments, such as maternity and child health clinics, early childhood education or school health care. The method has been used in Finland since 2006 and is now being expanded to new target groups in EU countries such as Lithuania, Croatia, Greece, Slovenia, and Spain.

At the beginning of the project, the target countries were interviewed to better understand the regional backgrounds and differences. “We wanted to understand what the prerequisites, challenges and opportunities are for implementing the method in different countries and what kind of support is needed. In addition, we organized two workshops where we worked on the framework together with the Finnish Heart Association and their partners,” says project manager Neea Salonen from NHG.

Picture: Sydänliitto/Suvi Tuuli Kankaanpää

The Finnish Heart Association’s goal was to produce a clear and functional framework for implementing the Smart Family method in different operating environments and cultures. It was essential for the Finnish Heart Association that the core of the method remains the same, even if it is applied differently in different countries and regions.

The Finnish Heart Association’s development manager Kati Kuisma, who was responsible for the project, says that the framework is now ready to be shared and tested. “We have high expectations and hopes for spreading the method – the framework provides a systematic way to adopt the model and support its implementation. We believe that Smart Family can positively affect the well-being and quality of life of many children and families.”

The Finnish Heart Association thanks NHG for the collaboration. “We have received valuable help and support from NHG. The team has been very professional, enthusiastic, and committed to the project. They have also brought us new perspectives and ideas. Together we have created a framework that is clear, flexible, and comprehensive. It helps us communicate the benefits and practices of the method to different target groups and stakeholders,” Kuisma says.

Nordic Healthcare Group is an advisory, insights and research company. We maximize the outcomes of health and social care, and life sciences globally to improve the lives of everyone. The annual pro bono project is part of NHG’s social responsibility. “For us at NHG, it is important to support socially significant topics with our expertise – also by offering our skills pro bono. We were excited about the Smart Family method, which has been in use in Finland for a long time, as we felt that it could benefit many children and families across Europe,” says Milja Saarimaa, NHG’s communication and marketing director.

Picture: Sydänliitto/Anna Kara