Ownership is important, but it’s just the starting point. To truly tackle the powerlessness that people getting support, their families and care workers experience in the system, Equal Care Co-op are introducing a few more crucial ingredients.
They are using circle governance: this is a method of organising called 'sociocracy' that keeps decision-making local whilst still being able to act in concert and at scale. It doesn’t rely on traditional hierarchical structures to work.
There are already successful organisations around who are using sociocracy or close variants of it. They have been inspired by and are actively collaborating with these proven strategies for grassroots social care governance in the Netherlands ( Buurtzorg has grown from four people to a ten thousand strong community of 900 self-managing teams) and successful examples in the UK ( Cornerstones and Wellbeing Teams ). Perhaps unsurprisingly, if you give care and support workers agency and control over their day-to-day with great back-up, you get much better outcomes for the people they support.
Equal Care Co-op don’t have a pecking order with managers managing more managers. Instead, communities of professional care and support workers and volunteers will come together to co-ordinate support in their own neighbourhoods. They control their budgets, their recruitment, their partnerships and ways of working. They rely on the larger co-operative community to provide the digital tools, the assurances of quality and the infrastructure to bring in the business.