A ground breaking initiative shows going Dutch could be the way forward when it comes to meeting the challenge of rising numbers of people needing adult social care.

The Neighbourhood Cares pilot, brought to life by Cambridgeshire County Council is also getting support from one man in Soham who says it has helped him after a bereavement.

At the moment, it is currently being piloted in Soham and St Ives and follows the highly successful Dutch Buurtzorg care model, which is based on self-managed teams of highly qualified Neighbourhood Cares workers who work, live in and know their community.

The Neigbourhood Cares pilot is the first time Buurtzorg principles have been applied purely to Adult Social Care in the country. It is being trialled to evaluate if this approach can help reduce the rising demands and costs of health and adult social care and provide a stimulating workplace to help retain and develop staff. 

Frontline staff work in their communities to meet the needs of individuals by working closely with those who may need assistance, regardless of whether the challenges an individual faces are simple or complex. They will support adults over the age of 18 to ensure people get the right advice and support at the right time, at the right place, from the right people.

This might mean, for example, helping someone to live with the effects of a stroke, or putting someone who is lonely in touch with a friendship group or social club. Neighbourhood Cares workers will help to create and develop new services and support networks in and with the community where they are needed to.

Anwar Kahn, aged 71, from Soham, who received support from the Neighbourhood Cares team, said: “Last year I had a bereavement and it was devastating. I really didn’t know where to start to put my life together. I was worried about loneliness and what would happen to my health. I really wanted to meet people and help my local community, so I went along to a Neighbourhood Cares drop in event to find out what I could do. They were so helpful and sympathetic and listened to my experiences, which was very comforting.

“They suggested volunteering at the library as it would be a way to meet new people and build my confidence. I now can’t wait to start. Although it is early days for me, this has really helped give me some purpose knowing I can do something worthwhile.”

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Anna Bailey, Chairwoman of the Adults Committee, added: “It is heartening to hear Anwar’s story and how the pilot is making a real difference to people’s lives. Neighbourhood Cares is about rooting social care support firmly within the community at a very local level, to plan and deliver support on a community wide basis.  It's about shifting resources to the frontline and providing community responses for everyone that needs support in a community, not just those that meet the national eligibility criteria.  It's about getting away from standard packages of care, and instead supporting people much more flexibly in a whole host of different ways.  I want to take off the bureaucratic handcuffs that currently hobble our staff, and let them do what they came into their profession to do, to be empowered and entrusted to use their professional judgement, to be allowed to just get things done for people.”

The Neighbourhood Cares pilot is being independently evaluated. An interim report will be produced in September with a final report in March 2019. 

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