Most people are familiar with independent retail – small, often boutique-style shops which offer specialist products and services – but what about independent care? In Somerset, bespoke, independent care is an emerging part of the care market, where Micro-providers – a growing network of self-employed care and support workers – have been supporting almost 4,000 people across the county.
Somerset’s Micro-providers offer a range of services, including personal care, domestic help around the home, gardening and social support. They give people more choice, more control over their care needs and access to bespoke care. Working with a wide range of people, including older people, those with physical or learning disabilities, mental health issues, and even other carers, Micro-providers connect a diverse group of people with the care and support activities they need.
In the last five years, the number of Micro-providers operating in the county has grown from around 50, to almost 600. This is thanks to Somerset County Council’s Micro-enterprise project, which helps local people set themselves up as Micro-providers. Forming networks across the county, Micro-providers have become a vital part of Somerset’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, getting help and support to people in rural and isolated communities.
Councillor David Huxtable, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “We’re very grateful to Somerset’s growing networks of Micro-providers for the way that they have helped the people they care for to not only survive, but thrive during the pandemic.
“As a county, we have one of the fastest ageing populations in the UK, with half our population living in rural areas. Micro-providers can offer people in remote areas access to home care – coming out to them where they live, to offer the kind of support they want, at times they choose. Our care sector already creates 19,000 jobs, and that figure is set to rise – becoming a Micro-provider can be an exciting new career or second career option for people with a passion for making a difference in their community.”
Micro-provider, Sue Johansson, said: “One of the wonderful things about being a Micro provider is that you build up a relationship with your clients, you find out their likes and tailor the support to their needs and wants.
“Two of my clients hadn’t been outside since lockdown and they both expressed their desire to do something different – one gentleman desperately wanted to go to Vivary Park and a lovely lady craved a cream tea, it was really lovely to be able to do something so small, but something that made such a difference.”
To find out more about Somerset’s Micro-providers, watch the video: https://youtu.be/mQfSVxiuqf4
To access a Micro-provider visit www.somersetcommunityconnect.org.uk or get in contact with your local Village Agent through the Community Council for Somerset, by visiting https://somersetagents.org/find-an-agent/ or phoning 01823 331222.
For more information about becoming a Micro-provider, visit the Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/somersetmicroproviders/