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BEYOND BUURTZORG?

Interesting next stage organisation seeking investment through community shares

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A novel type of social care organisation emerging in the UK incorporating many of the teal and new economy principles under one platform holistically

While this health and care organisation I’m presenting here follows many of the self-organisation principles found in the successful Dutch nursing care organisation Buurtzorg, well known to followers of Reinventing Organisations and new ways of working, this one takes everything a step beyond! Primarily it is set up as a platform cooperative. A platform cooperative is like an Uber or AirBnB, but owned and controlled by its drivers/passengers or home owners/travellers rather than by the software company. In this case both carers as well as those being cared for are all co-owners. The organisation is appropriately named Equal Care Co-op.

The cooperative platform online structure enables a combination of both professional (paid) carers to be working symbiotically with volunteer carers from the community they are working in. Moreover, coop members can choose to be both care-givers (serving needs they can handle well) as well as care-receivers (for particular needs they have) in a community-based sharing, either paid or voluntarily, all self-organised and self-determined in the respective community circles. You can get a better understanding of the proposition from this online slide presentation.

Equal Care Coop are also introducing various other novel elements. The cooperative members not only co-own the platform, they also co-govern it, using a ‘simple’ form of sociocracy, a method of governance based on consent decision-making (‘simple’, because it has to take a variety of disabilities into account). They are also developing alternative forms of community currency, ‘Care Coins’, working with the Finance Lab. Another interesting development is the planned introduction of “visual law” (known in Canada, S. Africa and Australia, but a first in the UK) – the care industry is mired with all kinds of regulations which everyone, including volunteer helpers, need to understand – hence the need to present these and the platform terms & conditions in easily understandable ways.

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A very ambitious community-based entreprise, which is currently starting small in two villages in Northern England, but has the potential to grow into a new way of doing social care in different parts of the UK. Certainly quite a few councils across the UK have already taken notice, as they are also seeking new ways of commissioning and providing care which are more customer focussed and more efficient at the same time, and they have expressed a great deal of interest in the Equal Care Coop model. Unfortunately expressing interest is not the same as actually providing funds to make it work, they require proof of concept first, which can be very difficult to do on a shoestring, the infamous Catch-22.

While Equal Care Coop has some investment from Coops UK and other sources, they need to raise a lot more to boost the project off the ground. Once operating the whole thing should be self-funding, but it does need some investment to kick-start it all. With that in mind Equal Care Co-op have launched a Community Share offer on Wednesday, 12th June 2019.

They are setting out to change the power balance in social care to put the receivers and givers of care and support at the top. They have a target of £30K to fund the development of co-operative platform technology and to grow their care and support circles. You can view an online description of what they are doing and the offer here (from where you can also download a more detailed brochure).

This is a hugely interesting project to support. It addresses many of the challenges other organisational structures or cooperatives have failed to tackle in the past. The project does need support, almost half of what they are seeking has been pledged, so those wanting to invest (min £100) please do so directly here. The Community Share offer is open until 17th July, so if you want to invest please do so very soon!

If you want to talk to the team themselves, you can email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." rel="noopener nofollow" target="_blank" saprocessedanchor="true">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This is a very interesting new organisation to explore.

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