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How Care Micro-Enterprises (CMEs) work

What is a Care Micro-Enterprise (CME)?

A CME is a small business which can provide care and support services to you in your local community.

Care Micro-Enterprises logo

You may pay for all of your own care and support, or receive some support from the local authority, dependent upon your eligibility.

CMEs can have up to eight full time workers or volunteers. They must be independent businesses, and could be Sole Traders, Partnerships, Limited Companies or CIC’s.

Benefits include:

  • flexible and localised care and support in your home
  • more choice and control around care and support options
  • an alternative to more traditional care services
  • longer-term relationships with the care workers who support you

We aim to make your care and support journey as seamless as possible. We stay in contact with our CMEs so they can let us know if your situation changes and you need more support.

Our Adult Social Care teams will always be on hand to offer advice or support. Information from our networks will ensure that CMEs are kept up to date and remain well-informed, so they are giving the best level of care.

Who should use a CME?

CMEs can be used by self-funders, or people supported by a social worker where the Local Authority is paying for all, or part of, your care. 

CMEs are ideal if:

  • you know what kind of support, or care, you want
  • you are happy to contact a provider direct and explain what you need
  • you are able to make decisions on whether a provider is suitable for you and whether to use them
  • you are confident with organising your own care
  • you are an adult social work colleague supporting a person to access a Direct Payment and need place-based care and support options to refer the person to
  • you are a social prescriber or partner from the VCSE sector looking to signpost a service user to care and support services in the local community

Types of support

Personal care

Includes support with:

  • eating or drinking (including the administration of parenteral nutrition)​
  • toileting (including in relation to menstruation)
  • washing or bathing​
  • dressing
  • oral Care
  • the care of skin, hair, and nails (with the exception of nail care provided by a chiropodist or podiatrist)

Holistic home care

Day to day support and help around the home. Could include:

  • cleaning
  • gardening
  • cooking
  • laundry
  • support managing administration, general correspondence and bills
  • pet care
  • collecting prescriptions, household essentials and groceries
  • support to keep well, to socialise and to remain independent

Carer respite services

If you are a carer for a friend or family member, a CME may be able to provide respite from your caring role.

We wish to learn from the past and move from a historic 'one size fits all' approach. CMEs offer more localised - or place-based - support.

Each district in the county may work very differently. People in different areas might have different needs. What works in one area may not work in another. CMEs know their local area, the community groups, clubs and residents. They can deliver tailored support.

CMEs support our commitment to create more care options and to enhance personalised care to better suit individuals’ needs. This will lead to better health and wellbeing outcomes. It will also help manage demand on our services by offering alternatives to current social care options. Alternative options include more respite care for carers, home care, and reablement packages, and delaying the need for council-funded residential care. Emphasis on place-based working will also support our green pledge by reducing carbon emissions.

Regulation of CMEs

Due to the way that they operate, most CMEs do not meet the criteria to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). CMEs can still choose to register with the CQC if they wish, or there may be certain circumstances where it is appropriate for them to do so.

Our requirements for CMEs

We know that care choices can be a difficult decision. Many people worry about the credibility and reliability of their care services. We have specific requirements for CMEs.

All CMEs must undertake essential checks:

  • identity checks
  • Right to Work
  • Enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) Checks (valid within 2 years)
  • liability insurance

All businesses delivering holistic homecare would be required to undertake essential competency tests and training:

  • safeguarding
  • basic first aid
  • health and safety
  • GDPR
  • lone worker

In addition, businesses wishing to deliver personal care would be required to be:

  • CQC (Care Quality Commission) registered
  • or, if self-employed and registered as a Sole Trader they may be CQC exempt

Where a CME is providing personal care under the CQC exemption, the person delivering the service would still be required to have Care Certificate training and work in accordance with the standards set out in the Code of Conduct for Healthcare, Support Workers and Adult Social Care Workers in England.

For information on regulated activities including personal care see Scope of registration: Glossary of terms - Care Quality Commission (

See Care Quality Commission: Scope of Registration (Page 14)

Scope of registration: Introduction - Care Quality Commission (

Scope of Registration May 2022 (

All CMEs will have the correct level of training for the services they will be offering. All will also be supported with Continuing Professional Development opportunities to enable us to build a highly skilled workforce.

Terms of Engagement

All CMEs that feature on the directory must enter a Terms of Engagement. This sets out the agreed quality standards that all CMEs must uphold to remain supported by our programme.

Cambridgeshire County Council reserves the right to remove any providers (CMEs) from the programme and the directory should they be found to be operating in breach of the terms.