Homecare: A different approach

Featured article - 15 March 2017
By Sian Lockwood, CEO of Community Catalysts

Head-shot of the author, Sian Lockwood, CEO of Community Catalysts

Homecare can only be successful when it attracts and retains compassionate, skilled staff, but current models struggle to build in the time or consistency for dignity, warmth and companionship. This can result in unhappy workers and large costs in managing staff performance, sickness and turnover. It also means that while older and disabled people may get the physical care they need, inconsistency and lack of time makes it hard to build up relationships. People stay lonely and isolated.

Community Catalysts has developed an approach that shows there is another way to deliver homecare. Our approach has been implemented in 49 UK areas over seven years and is based not on technology or elusive economies of scale, but on releasing local people’s capacity to care. Our model scales through a single coordinator or Catalyst supporting up to 200 small, self-organising enterprises. It results in low-cost, flexible and personal care for older or disabled people, and appropriately paid, highly satisfying self-employment for people who set up and run micro-enterprises.

Sharon Walker worked for many years in traditional care services until she took a career break to look after her mother-in-law. She was profoundly affected by the experience of delivering person centred care and with support from Community Catalysts, decided to set up Care4U. Care4U provides highly personalised, flexible and consistent support to older people near Sharon’s Somerset village. Sharon says: "I can organise my time so that people can get what they want at a time that suits them, it gives me the freedom to work around their family."

In rural Somerset, over two years our Catalyst has supported the development of 133 ‘start-up’ enterprises and advised a further 38. The result is a directory of 171 care providers that people, their families and social workers can contact. Between them these enterprises are supporting 600 people and creating 180 local jobs. Collectively they provide 2200 hours of care a week.

There is a widespread belief that micro-solutions cannot address macro challenges but in Somerset community-led home care solutions are delivering at scale. Our experience suggests that with the right help they could deliver at scale everywhere.

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