Co-operative social and community workers in the UK are set to form a guild to encourage dialogue, best practice and effective safeguarding in the co- operative care sector.
The Co-operative Guild of Social and Community Workers is spearheaded by ChangeAGEnts, the older people’s participation co-operative that works towards a vision of contribution, opportunity and engagement.
In the context of care being outsourced to contracted agents, the guild hopes to create a space for dialogue and action.
In 2000, the UK spent an estimated £12.9bn on social care. As the population ages over the coming years, so the amount spent in real terms on care is projected to quadruple to £53.9bn by 2050. As a multi- stakeholder co-operative, ChangeAGEnts has long been concerned about the state of the care sector.
“If a ‘client’ is sick, has an accident, or the tasks cannot be completed by the care worker in the time allotted, then the worker, in effect becomes a volunteer, who gives their time, out of love and compassion, for the person in need of
their care,” says Howard Lewis, chair of ChangeAGEnts’ UK Older People’s Advisory Group (UK-OPEG), who also represents ChangeAGEnts on the government’s UK Advisory Forum on Ageing (UKAFA).
“Are we moving into a future where other community workers will only be paid for the time spent in their ‘clients’ homes? District nurses? Social workers?”
As a solution, ChangeAGEnts has developed the ‘Three Cs of Fair Care’, initiated with the intention of exploring “a just and fair co-operative solution to care provision across the UK”.
1. The Concept of Fair Care means fairness for all the people engaged in the business of giving and receiving Care, by developing clusters of micro-co-operative enterprises and mutual owners to deliver care, supported by secondary co-ops.
2. The second C is the Campaign; ChangeAGEnts is promoting the concept of Fair Care with the public, politicians, policy makers, commissioners and any other decision makers or people of influence, who can help to increase opportunities for people to develop and become members of, their own Fair Care co-ops.
3. The ultimate aim is for Care Co-operatives to be created where all members of the co-operative give and receive mutual support, in order to attain their individual and collective aspirations.