The Covid-19 crisis has shone a spotlight on the social care sector — on every aspect, from sessional home care support to the most expensive residential nursing care and everything in between.
The shrill outrage we are currently hearing from many politicians about social care being undervalued — as if this could conceivably be news — is largely spurious, for anyone with the slightest firsthand experience of the social care market knows it is dysfunctional and inequitable.
A new and very local micro-enterprise model in care is explored in a report that has just been published.
Produced jointly by the New Economics Foundation and Community Catalysts, the report, Community Micro-Enterprise as a Driver of Local Economic Development in Social Care, explores the benefits to local economies of one particular approach to care — local community-based micro-entrepreneurs providing care. Community Catalysts, which has been championing this model for some time now, defines such micro-enterprises as ‘very small organisations set up by people looking to provide care and support’ with some ‘run by one person, working on their own, while others employ a small number of staff, generally up to five’.
In places like Somerset, where care micro-enterprises have been promoted by the local authority, they have proliferated – with numbers jumping from around 50 to more than 450 over five years. A 2017 evaluation showed that the 223 micro-enterprises then up and running were delivering £938,607 in annual savings, while doing a better job of achieving outcomes than traditional home care agencies.