One hugely positive effect of the COVID 19 pandemic has been local people stepping up to the plate and helping other local people in their communities. The power of local communities helping themselves has been amazing.
Taking this a step further, community enterprises are a channel through which local people can find local jobs, well paid and with the flexibility they might need to fit in with their other responsibilities. This is especially so in the provision of home care.
The corollary of this is, people looking for care and support can get it from local people in their neighbourhood, who are able to provide the consistency, reliability and flexibility they need to live the life they want and which they cant always get from corporate providers.
However, this doesn’t happen just by chance. Local people with the desire to run their own micro enterprise contributing to their local communities, need tailored support and advice to get started.
In addition, once they are up and running and pockets of micro enterprises develop, they need support to collaborate and network with each other, not only creating a community within a community but developing a sustainable and robust self-employed workforce of people, helping people and driving rural economies forward.
The HSE have a huge role to play in enabling this scenario, by setting a direction for home care in upcoming regulation and fostering strong local communities and economies. They can continue to commission home care in a way that promotes extractive corporate providers and accept a huge leakage of much needed funds to corporate overheads and profits, as well as delivering inconsistent care and poor-quality care jobs, or they can intervene.
Intervene to drive a bottom-up rejuvenation of home care, where community building, personal relations and quality jobs are fostered, over procedural driven, extractive corporate provision.
This has been happening in the UK and is indeed mandated by their 2014 Care Act, which insists on local authorities investing to build a wider ecosystem of home care provision, providing people with real choice and control.
Providing choice and giving people more control over what their care and support looks like, are fundamental to their wellbeing and these principles need to be central to the up coming regulation of the home care sector in Ireland.