Reflections on the social care reform White Paper

2 December 2021 · Categories: Communities Care, Opinions and responses

Following the publication of the Government’s long-anticipated White Paper on social care reform yesterday Pip Cannons, our Chief Executive, reflects on some of the highlights from the Paper and looks towards the future:

“We’re pleased to see commitment to innovation and new models of care in the White Paper on social care reform and to read about some of the good stuff already happening now that we can build on in the future. We recognise that this is just the first step. We look forward to continuing to work together with people who draw on care and support and carers to coproduce good quality local solutions that close the gap between the stated ambition and lived experience.”

Pip Cannons – Chief Executive at Community Catalysts

Our partnership project with Somerset Council featured in the Paper as an example of innovation. The excerpt below is taken directly from the Paper:

Innovative models of care in action: Somerset’s alternative commissioning model
In 2014, Somerset Council wanted new ways to meet home care demand and meet the needs of people in rural areas. Pooling council and NHS funds, they raised an initial investment of £75,000 a year, and worked with social enterprise Community Catalysts CIC to launch the micro-provider initiative, which helps people start and run small, independent enterprises offering care and support in their local area.

Following 4 years of initial support from Community Catalysts to set up and embed the Somerset Micro-enterprise programme, it is now managed solely by the council and has developed 867 new micro-providers that provide approximately 6,000 people with over 26,000 hours of support a week.

Micro-providers typically support people with personal care, managing their home, going out, social contact and maintaining their usual routine. Alongside this programme, Somerset County Council also introduced ‘Village Agents’ – trained people employed by the council who offer a range of support including help with securing transport for the rurally isolated, countering loneliness with get-togethers and connecting people with services they need.

These kinds of hyper-local care services have attracted new people into care, created 728 new jobs, and have helped ease pressure on hospitals and social care. Offering people more choice and control over their care has also resulted in a 43.6% increase in people using a direct payment.

This new model has resulted in significant savings – a 2020 survey of 125 micro-providers indicated savings of around £2.9 million a year compared with commissioned home care services. Most importantly, people who use the services of micro-providers are reporting better outcomes. A 2017 survey of people who have used both traditional home care services and micro-providers found that all 45 respondents felt that the support they received from micro-providers was more consistent, reliable and focused around the person.

The greatest endorsement comes from the service users themselves. Jane Williams, a micro-provider service user in Somerset says:

“All the micro-providers I have met are professional, charming, intelligent and able. They take on a variety of work, such as bed-making, meal prep and shopping. But what is more important is that they know about empathic listening, which allows you to have your own voice. I had lost my own voice through loneliness, isolation and fear.

I was a counsellor myself in the past, so I know about professional empathic listening – that is the most valuable thing they can offer you. There is nothing like the emotional support of being able to express yourself to someone who is sharing with you the experience that you have… There is nothing to compare with that.”

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