Taking care back to its roots in Oxfordshire

Care in Oxfordshire looks set to go back to its community roots with teams of very local people set up around older and vulnerable people in an innovative project originally inspired in Holland and so-far tried in only one other place in England.

Teams are to be set up around people who need care in Abingdon and Wallingford as part of a £100,000 trial to be managed by a specialist Manchester based company called Wellbeing Teams who have already set up the new teams in Wigan.

Only people who live within a five mile radius of those for whom they’ll care will be recruited to the new teams – but they don’t have to have any experience in the care industry - they just need to be able to offer up to 21.75 hours of time per week and have a clear commitment and pride in their local area and community.

Helen Sanderson of Wellbeing Teams has been in discussion with adult social care managers at Oxfordshire County Council for some time and plans have now reached a stage at which they can begin to be implemented with the help of a charity called Community Circles. Helen was originally inspired by a well-known self-management model of care that has been pioneered in Buurtzorg, Holland.

She said: “It’s very exciting to be working in Oxfordshire with what is a new concept based on traditional community values, and a new way of working in self-organising teams. People are committed to their own communities, they know the people, places and resources, they love their towns and villages, they’ve often known their neighbours for years and they care about their welfare already.

“If teams are set up locally that means far less time spent on the road and more time spent caring. We’ve already seeing positive results in Wigan with small close-knit teams working around individuals who need care, and teams who organise themselves with the support of a coach instead of traditional managers.

“In terms of recruiting the people we need, what matters is people’s heart being in their community they’re likely to have the right attitudes and values. If they have the right values and motivations we can train them in the skills they need.’

“We don’t deal in CVs and traditional interviews, we invite interested people to a three hour workshop and ask them for a one page profile with the overall aim being to see if their values suit and our suit theirs. We have won an award for our values based recruitment and we are excited to bring this to Oxfordshire. Eighty percent of our current teams have come from outside of the care sector.”

“Individual teams can be up to 12 people strong and they work on outcomes that are identified from the outset by the person receiving the care.”

People recruited to teams would be supported by Wellbeing Teams through a buddying system and the usual DBS and safety checks would be required before recruitment could take place.

Independent living

Kate Terroni, the Director for Adult Social Care at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The CQC have acknowledged is a brand new model of care.

“As ever, our prime motive in getting involved with is to provide quality care and help people live independently at home – but this is a very different way of achieving that aim.

“It has the potential to unlock untapped potential for the home care market by reaching out to people who’d not normally consider working in the care industry and at the same time creating a much more varied workforce. Workforce recruitment issues in the care industry have been well documented in our county. This is both exciting and innovative and I look forward to teams taking shape in Abingdon and Wallingford.”

Community roots

Councillor Lawrie Stratford, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care added: “This really is bringing care right back to its community roots. If we look back several decades, care would have been provided informally and locally. Wellbeing teams are based on that old, traditional model and I’m incredibly interested to see how things take shape in Abingdon and Wallingford. We’re certainly interested in expanding the model out in to other parts of Oxfordshire in future times.

Learn more

If you are interested in joining the first Wellbeing Team starting in Abingdon, please go to wellbeingteams.org and have a look at the careers page.