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What’s the idea?

At Equal Care Co-op, we are building a collaborative platform that puts the relationship between the care receiver and the care giver at the heart of the service. Each person is able to choose the other and select when, where and how the support takes place.

Peer support is central to our approach – people who receive care can also offer support themselves and be fairly rewarded for the skills and experience they share with others.

By giving equal focus to the giver and receiver of care, and by enabling people who receive support to help others, we will set the scene for a highly effective, respectful and enduring support relationship. We want to end the ‘revolving door’ nature of home care work, improving the quality of care, raising the status of care workers and reducing costs as a result.

Crucially, unlike other platforms and most of the traditional care industry, the company and the technology are owned by the participants: the givers and users of care.

Background

Problems surrounding homecare are complex. Health and wellbeing outcomes for older people and vulnerable adults have been worsened by a variety of factors, including a growing ageing population, reductions in funding, disjointed and disempowering service provision, and severe gaps in both the quantity and quality of the workforce.

The platform format offers a level of personalisation usually only achievable when hiring your own support staff

It is capable of lifting the administrative burdens of managing care without sacrificing choice and control.

The platform aims to relieve pressures on public services by allowing those who are eligible for Local Authority funded support to select their own care workers and have control over their own care planning, coordination and data in the same way that more affluent self-funders can.

By combining this powerful tool with the values and governance structure of a multi-stakeholder co-operative, we are also able to tackle job security and workforce ethics in the gig economy and embed co-production from the beginning. The people who control the company are the people who provide and pay for its services.

We are a part of the platform co-operativism movement – a growing international community dedicated to building a fairer future of work.

Why the ShareLab Fund?

Sharelab funding will help us to develop both the online platform and our organisation in parallel.

We’re working with Loconomics, a US-based platform coop supporting freelancers to connect with clients. We’re going to build our prototype by cloning and redeveloping their codebase. We’ll be doing this alongside a user centred design process that will help us not only with the user experience of the website but also with the service in its entirety.

Initially our pilot project will focus on providing care in the Todmorden and Hebden Royd area. This will enable us to test different aspects of the platform and the service we’re offering.

Alongside this work, we’ll also be developing a working governance model based on the principles of self-management, enabling us to address some of the core issues of care-work: employment rights, low status, low pay and limited career progression.

Finally, we’ll also be using the funding to develop an independent social impact research and evaluation framework that will guide the development of the platform and offer learning for other organisations interested in our approach.

Equal Care Co-op will receive £30,000 from the ShareLab Fund.