We were commissioned by Somerset Council in 2014 to help local people in the most rural parts of West and South Somerset to provide supports and services that allowed their older or disabled neighbours to stay at home and feel part of their community.

The problem?

The homecare market in Somerset and across the UK is facing real challenges. Homecare can only be successful when it attracts and retains compassionate staff, but current industry models are often unable to give the time for dignity and companionship. Even where older people are adequately supported, they are often lonely, undervalued and disconnected from their community. Local Government and other partner agencies in Somerset realised there was a need to do things differently.

Our solution

Community Catalysts’ established approach is based on releasing local people’s capacity to care. Scaling through a coordinator or Catalyst supporting up to 200 small, self-organising enterprises. It results in low-cost, flexible, care for older people and satisfying self-employment for local people.

The impact it has

• Older people are well-supported at home by people from their neighbourhood
• Support is co-designed. Creative people on both sides of the care equation finding ways to do things differently
• People can work locally, earn an income and make a positive difference
• Commissioners, older people and families know good support is available. As a result people come home earlier from hospital. More people choose to take a Direct Payment.
• People stay connected to their community, contributing and avoiding loneliness
• Money is saved as the cost of care delivered by community enterprises is cheaper

The evidence it works

We worked with the council for 4 years, at the end of which there were:

  • 425 community enterprises offering help to older people to enable them to stay at home.
  • 362 of these were brand-new enterprises.
  • 58% of these providers offer personal care services, including for people with more complex care needs. This care is often provided alongside home help, domestic and social support.
  • 42% offer home help type services including support, companionship, domestic help, gardening, cleaning, trips out, transport.
  • 12,000 hours of care a week are now delivered by community micro-enterprises in Somerset to 1,500 people.
  • 372 local jobs have been created.

Our project came to an end in October 2018. We are pleased that Somerset County Council has continued the programme in-house and that we are able to offer some ‘legacy’ support