The problems facing the adult social care sector will be painfully familiar to readers of care agenda. People receiving care and their families left feeling disempowered and frustrated. Social isolation and loneliness. A crisis of staff morale and high staff turnover caused by low pay and insecure working conditions. Yet people who receive care need carers who they know well and with whom they can build a stable, trusting relationship? Too much of the inadequate funding available not being spent on delivering actual care
In response, in June 2018, a group of people in the Colne Valley, Kirklees came together to talk about the issues and then identify solid, practical solutions that we can apply here and now in our own community. After much discussion, research and consulting expert opinion we decided to create a multi-stakeholder Social Care Co-operative for the Colne Valley. This aims to bring together the key stakeholders involved in delivering care together as members. People needing care and support, their families, care workers and community volunteers, respected as equal members of a dynamic and democratic enterprise. See www.ksen.org.uk for more details.
A key part of our offer is to ensure our staff are well-motivated, trained and don’t come and go. We will reward, value and support staff members properly with favourable working terms and conditions, quality training and the opportunity to contribute to decision making. Operating on a not-for-profit basis, with flatter structures, any financial surplus will be used to improve our services by investing in our staff and volunteers who support the people we care for.
The project is developing momentum rapidly. We have established a dynamic Steering Committee staffed by local people with expertise in social care, co-operative development, public policy and the law. In November 2018 we held a brilliant community consultation event attended by 70 local people from a broad range of backgrounds. The enthusiasm for an alternative, co-operative approach reflected frustration and concern with the current model. Following a successful bid with the Bright Ideas Fund, we developed our detailed business plan.
So this already seems like an idea whose time has come and we have set ourselves the ambitious aim of being ready to begin trading by the end of the year.