Innovations in health and social care - Community Catalysts

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 The homecare market is in collapse. Homecare can only be successful when it attracts and retains compassionate staff, but current industry models are unable to build in the time for dignity and companionship. Even where older people are adequately supported, they are often chronically lonely.


Community Catalysts’ established approach is based on releasing local people’s capacity to care. This model uses a ratio where 1 coordinator supports c. 200 small, self-organising enterprises. This results in low-cost, flexible and personal care for older people and their families, and appropriately paid, highly satisfying self-employment for local people.

Evidence base

In rural Somerset over the last two years, we have supported the development of 133 brand new and 38 established community enterprises. Between them, these enterprises are supporting 600 older people and provide employment opportunities for 180 local people. Between them, they provide 2,200 hours of care and support a week.

Expected impact

• Older people are well supported at home by people from their neighbourhood.
• People can work locally, earn an income and make a positive difference.
• Commissioners know that older people are being supported well at home. Because of this, people come home earlier from hospital, unblocking beds. They stay connected to their community, helping to relieve isolation and loneliness. The cost of care delivered by community enterprises is cheaper.

Stage/spread (where it is/how much is there?)

We have supported the development of more than 1,800 community enterprises in 50 areas of the UK, who support c. 12,500 people between them. Collectively, these community entrepreneurs provide c. 2,500 jobs and c. 1,500 volunteering opportunities. Our approach can be adapted to focus on particular local priorities, including day
opportunities and homecare.

What would councils/local areas need to do or have in place to enable it to happen?

• A skilled and knowledgeable Catalyst employed for 2 years to support local people to understand local
needs, develop ideas, provide patient coaching and expert support, link to local sources of advice and
form self-sustaining networks.
• A locally-rooted Catalyst working at a neighbourhood level through community structures and
networks, helping to strengthen what is already working well.
• The backup of a national organisation and a network of enterprises across the UK sharing learning and
helping to address barriers.
• Buy-in from the whole system from senior leaders to front line staff – Community Catalysts support
areas to understand and value these new approaches, and make the necessary systems change to
enable community enterprise to thrive.
• A comprehensive risk and quality management approach.
• One Catalyst employed for two years will cost £135,000.

What would kill it?

• A Catalyst being recruited and employed by a local partner who does not have the skills, attributes or
focus necessary for the job.
• System buy-in being only partial, lacking senior commitment to the necessary culture and systems

Where to go for more information