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Community Solutions for social care – how small and local is part of the picture

Posted September 21st 2020 by Leon

Blog header: Community solutions for social care, how small and local is part of the picture

Community Solutions for social care

How small and local is part of the picture

Many of us have known for a long time that the solutions to problems often come from the community that is affected. That is where people see the difficulties day-to-day and understand what the needs is, what can work and what won’t work. Most people also care about the people we know and want to make a difference and get it right.

If we went by what we read in the news, we would think that social care for older people – and for disabled people and everyone else who needs some extra help to have a good life – is provided by big institutions – the public sector or by large commercial companies who want to make a profit out of providing care.

Different kinds of care provision

But the range of people and organisations providing social care and support has always been much wider and has included people who work in settings that are much closer to communities. It includes

  • Charities that provide care
  • Social enterprises that are providing support and local care services
  • Community groups and smaller charities that bring together workers and volunteers
  • Peer support groups, where people who share circumstances and experiences support and encourage each other.

These services give people who need support more choices and make it easier for them to find the combination of supports that work for them, provide good quality care and understand their circumstances.

They also create local jobs and opportunities for people to learn and share skills, and see that providing good quality care and support and being part of a strong local economy and resilient community are all part of the same thing.

It is worth remembering that many people who do work in the bigger settings also care about the people they support and want to help them be part of their communities, which is easier when we organise care in ways that make that a priority.

It is also worth remembering that support from family, friends and neighbours, and the ways people use ordinary businesses like shops and cafes, is also an important part of people’s day to day support and is part of the mix that enables us to be well and independent and have a good life.

Covid-19 and the future of community care

We knew this before Covid happened. The experience of the past months has shown that the contribution of those smaller and local enterprises is even more important, as people responded quickly and in creative ways to meet new needs and fill gaps in what was already there.

Last year Outside the Box and a team at the ihub at Healthcare Improvement Scotland worked with people in rural communities, to look at models of community-led support and how these can improve the range of supports, especially for people living in rural areas which are not covered well by the main services – and sometimes not covered at all. We were just at point of sharing what we learned and gently expanding it when Covid hit – so now we are taking a new approach and sharing what we are doing more widely.

What we’re doing next

For Outside the Box, it links to work we are doing with rural communities and support for community groups as they respond to Covid. For ihub, this is part of their work on Community-led care.

Our first session was an on-line discussion, with 165 people from across public sector, voluntary organisations and community groups taking part. You can see the summary report here.

Over the next 6 months or so we are doing more to encourage more local discussions. I Hub are providing a short series of wider events and working with staff in Health and Social Care Partnerships.

Outside the Box is working with people in communities:

  • Bringing together people from different sectors and experiences in a local place
  • Partnership events with other organisations
  • Sessions on topics, such as the contribution of peer support groups.

There will be updates on our website and please get in touch if you are interested in having one of these workshops. We are looking forward to working with you and to hearing about the conversations that happen in your communities.

Contact: Anne Connor anne@otbds.org

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