Day two of the Co-operative Councils Innovation Network conference explored the theme of pandemic recovery through the lens of the crisis in health and social care, with the launch of CCIN’s new report, Co-operative Difference in Care.
The report is the culmination of a project by the CCIN to explore co-operative solutions to challenges in health and social care. The project funded 15 “Policy Prototypes” run by 11 members of the council network.
A number of the policy prototypes were showcased at the conference, including Tameside Council’s Living Well at Home model, Torbay’s Early Years Help and Telford and Wrekin’s Health and Social Care Urgent Response Team.
CCIN commissioned Peopletoo to analyse the 15 policy prototypes, with the key question being what difference the co-op approach makes to the provision of care, support and preventative services in communities. The research showed that where co-operative approaches were used, services were more able to flex and adapt to changing community needs, and case studies showed a reduction in social isolation, visits to health professionals and duplicate referrals for people using the service.
The key findings in the report show that joint working, community involvement, co-production featured across the work of all policy prototypes, but that adherence to CCIN’s full list of co-operative principles was limited due to funding, organisational structures and the size and short-term nature of the projects. A need was also identified market management and commissioning which supports micro providers working with co-operative principles.
Speaking at the conference, Peopletoo CEO Maggie Kenney said: “Peopletoo firmly believe that co-operatives are a critical part of the solution to the current crisis we face in the care sector, but more has to be done to heighten their profile. Government and local government, in the way they commission, need to support the establishment and growth of co-operatives.”
The day also heard from keynote speakers Baroness Sal Brinton, Lib Dem Lords spokesperson for health, and Feryal Clark MP, shadow minister for primary care and patient safety.
Brinton spoke of her personal experiences as a wheelchair user and immuno-compromised person, explaining that she has “seen firsthand the dislocation of council, CCG and secondary care arrangements”. But she also praised the work of the “mainly invisible” directors of public health, local resilience forums, health portfolio leaders and primary and secondary care providers in the NHS during the pandemic.
Brinton said one of the key reasons she joined the Liberal Democrats is because the party constitution has a commitment to employee ownership, adding “increasing co-operatives and employee ownership remains absolutely at the core of our values”.
Feryal Clark said co-operative principles such as social partnership, co-production and innovation are things that Labour wants from the social care system, and made the case for long-term reforms of the care system:
“Whilst extra resources are essential, simply putting more money into a broken system won’t deliver better results for care users or the or better value for taxpayers’ money.”