Sarah Bedford is Head of Social Policy at the New Economics Foundation “Building an economy that works for people and the planet”. She was drawn to think about social care and how to improve it reflecting on her grandfather’s later life. “Why does it have to be like this and how could it be different”
She speaks about how the basic purpose of social care links to wider society and the economy as a “foundational sector” “There is huge amount of possibility given the breadth of potential value that social care creates”
Alongside Community Catalysts, Sarah and colleagues have been researching the question of what are the benefits that community micro enterprise bring to local economies. She quotes the example of Somerset “microenterprises that have supported 11,000 people during the virus”. She speaks of benefits linked to autonomy for both the entrepreneurs and the people supported. The diversity of forms of support and assistance is noted, well beyond personal care ideas of what social care is. As well as bringing innovation to social care they also push innovation in the wider local provider system. The other big theme is around resilience – micro providers are small but work collaboratively and form a whole bigger than the sum of their parts. This helps with recruitment and sustainability.
In growing this, NEF made recommendations not just to social care decision makers but also to those making economic policy decisions. Sarah speaks also about what national policy might look like that supports these local developments
Looking more broadly at social care reform Sarah says the debate needs to go much wider than free personal care – to recognise a much broader set of things as social care