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  • Living well at home

Community Catalysts Community solutions that help people live well at home

What is the problem this innovation solves?

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 an approach where 1 Catalyst over two years typically supports about 100 small, self-organising enterprises. This results in reliable, 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 four years, our Catalyst has supported   the development of 329 brand new and 62 established community enterprises. Between them, these enterprises are supporting 1500 older people and provide employment opportunities for 372 local people. Between them, they provide 9000 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 3,000 community enterprises in over 60 areas of the UK, who support about 14,000 people between them. Collectively, these community entrepreneurs provide nearly  2,500 jobs and over 2,000 volunteering opportunities. Our model can be adapted to focus on particular local priorities, including day opportunities and homecare. The core of our approach is patient coaching and has enabled many people with lived experience to use their own gifts and strengths through enterprise and contribution.

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 andnetworks, 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 change.

Where to go for more information