Citizen-Provider Partnerships for care and support services

An important part of the Care to Co-operate service is supporting the development of partnerships for care and support services. One way we have been doing this is by supporting a number of third sector organisations to form partnerships, to bid collectively for Local Authority contracts. Although this is a key part of achieving a better and more co-operative Wales, it only scratches the surface of what partnerships can mean for the sector.

The Social Services & Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 places a duty on local authorities to promote social enterprises, co-operatives, user-led groups and the third sector in the delivery of care, support and preventative services. Moreover, the guidance for Part 2 of the Act places a duty on local authorities to promote services that involve citizens in co-producing services at the individual, organisational, and strategic level. A number of organisations we are working with are now looking to move ahead with innovative plans to achieve this through co-operative partnership working with citizens[1].

So what does a co-operative partnership with citizens look like? Well, if we imagine a traditional partnership between organisations, there will be a number of provider organisations coming together to share knowledge and resources in order to deliver a service. Taking this same basic model, let’s now imagine that instead of only provider organisations coming together to form the partnership, that it can now involve a group of citizens as a partner ‘organisation’ in its own right. For example, tenants within a housing scheme who receive home care from an outside agency could form their own committee to work in partnership with the housing provider and care agency, to plan the co-ordination of services. Care to Co-operate can provide support for the citizens to form their committee, and then, in turn, assist to establish a partnership model that gives equal status to them and the providers in strategic decisions. By co-operating in this way, citizens now have an equal say in setting the outcomes and determining how services are designed and delivered. Another example could be where a local authority is seeking to encourage a community-led approach to the development of new services. This could involve developing a partnership between themselves, a local citizen group, and one or more social enterprises providing services in the area.

This approach to partnership between providers and citizens offers real potential to help achieve the vision of the Act. It doesn’t ask citizens to take on operational activities or place too big a burden on their time. However, it does give them an opportunity to co-operate together over important issues regarding their health and well-being. It ensures that rather than just being consulted with and ‘listened to’, citizens now have a share of control within governance and decision-making.

Care to Co-operate will continue to work with groups and organisations to achieve the vision of the Act, and to develop co-operative solutions that produce better well-being outcomes for the citizens of Wales.

[1] Internal reference: Anglesey Council and Cartrefi Conwy

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