We want to change the balance of power that exists in services and between care providers, families and people getting support. We want to re-centre the power, choice, and control for the most important people involved: the person receiving and the person giving support (whether paid or unpaid, family member or professional). When you get right down to it, nothing else is more important.
There's no single solution to a problem this complex, so we are going to do this in several ways:
1. We are incorporated as a multi-stakeholder co-operative, giving our primary members (the givers and receivers of care and support) ownership of the company, technology, dividend and decision-making.
2. We are using platform technology to enable workers and people getting support to choose one another and be in control of their lives and livelihoods. This gives us the ability to share the co-operative with other neighbourhoods, give care receivers much greater control over who supports them and how, ensure low running costs, and allow workers to be paid better and be in control of their day.
(By the way, combining those first two makes us a "platform co-op", a term gathering a lot of momentum in America and which has started to emerge in Europe. Just imagine if Uber were owned by its drivers - if they got to make decisions about how the company is run and shared in the end of year bonuses?! We are the first platform co-operative working in social care in the UK).
3. We are using alternative ways to govern ourselves and make decisions, avoiding the pyramid structure of most social care organisations. We have been inspired by a system from the Netherlands called Buurtzorg, dynamic governance and, more recently, the work of Buurtzorg-inspired wellbeing teams in the UK. Care workers make decisions locally, supported by coaches and training.
4. Care work is a profession. It has qualifications associated with it and it takes time to learn. And yet, caring for one another is human. Lots of people can care, including the people who receive support themselves. Through a combination of the platform and extra training, we will enable people who get support to share their experiences and help others. This is called peer support - it's one of the most powerful ways anyone can get help. Everyone should know about it and it should be normal and integral to all types of social care.
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