Choices4Doncaster: Transforming social care delivery in Doncaster

Over the last couple of years, Paul Harper and Martin Walker have taken a dream of transforming social care in Doncaster and made it into a reality.

Back in March 2017, a group of social care micro-providers in Doncaster formed a co-op, Choices4Doncaster, in order to provide a holistic, responsive and flexible support package to adults and older people, people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, long term health conditions, mental health issues and carers.

The members of the co-op are all established support providers with a track record of delivering bespoke care where the end-user is at the centre of the services.

Individually it can sometimes be difficult to secure care contracts and compete with larger traditional profit-driven organisations. By joining forces as a co-op, Choice4Doncaster are able offer services at scale and improve efficiency whilst providing responsive and individual support which is shaped by a belief in mutuality, participation and quality.

The founders of the co-op, Paul Harper and Martin Walker have between them over 20 years’ experience of working in the social care sector in Doncaster. Paul Harper, says:

“We looked around at the care available to local people and saw an opportunity to improve on current provision. We wanted to establish a 'member organisation', wherein a group of trusted providers could collaborate to provide personalised support and care. As a group, we stand more chance of being able to meet an individual's various care and support needs.”

Within six months Choices4Doncaster had secured and were successfully delivering their first NHS commissioning contract on behalf of Doncaster MBC to support people suffering with dementia and their families, which enabled them to employ two new members of staff. Having the network to call on (eight member local providers which they hope to extend) means they can provide a holistic approach to the care and are looking beyond this to ensure it is ongoing support through the use of personal budgets.

Harper continues:

“We are offering an alternative to more traditional forms of social support, based around individual needs, preferences and interests. One size does not fit all and Choices4Doncaster, is able to be proactive, responsive and personalised.”

“The Hive seemed to offer the best package of support for a start-up organisation with a good idea, lots of enthusiasm, but in need of direction."

"Through The Hive we were able to see the potential of the co-operative form and test this against other types of organisation, to make sure we could achieve our stated aims.”

“Once we'd established 'function', we needed help with our 'form'.  The Hive provided a quick self-assessment and an opportunity to consider the co-operative approach.  Advice, a chance to test our approach with other embryonic co-ops and dedicated practical support have consolidated thinking.  Choices4Doncaster is now being formed as a multi-stakeholder co-operative.”

“Existing as a co-operative of like-minded and trusted organisations, Choices4Doncaster will achieve lasting benefits for users of social support across the Borough. Our combined service offer will appeal to a broad audience. We will realise individual choice and help sustain people in need and their carers for longer.”

Alan Dootson, Hive support provider was delighted to work with Choice4Doncaster:

“It was extremely stimulating and rewarding to be working with such a dedicated group of professionals who through their value-based belief and personalised and collective response to people requiring social support are striving for them to thrive."

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Written by leila.osullivan
Updated: 14/05/2018