A step towards the Buurtzorg model in the UK?

I am both excited and scared. In August we have a Workshop day to recruit the first four members of a new kind of home care team, inspired by the Buurtzorg model. The first team will be in Lytham St Anns in Lancashire, and the second team in Doncaster in the autumn.

The person specification is complete – and it is in the format of a one-page profile. We have called people Well-being Workers instead of carers, to emphasise that the role is to very different to a traditional carer. The job description is also very different. We explain that the team will be small (no more than 12 people), self-managing and flexible.6

Naturally, the way that we recruit people has to be different as well. We have designed a 10 – 2.30pm day (to try to accommodate people with caring responsibilities) that is underpinned by Values Based Recruitment principles and has opportunities for people to demonstrate how they work with others, solve-problems, use their initiative and share about themselves (their hobbies, interests and passions).  The recruitment process starts by talking to one of the two people at central office, Mel or Geraldine. Here is an extract from the recruitment information:

“Let’s start with a ten-minute chat. Please phone the office during office hours and ask to speak to Mel or Geraldine on 01253 739550. Tell them about yourself and why you are interested in this role. They will then send you more information and invite you to come and spend the day with us, and other people who want to be part of this team as well, at our Workshop Day. This is a fun day that is a cross between training, team building, and group interviews. It starts at 10 and runs till 2.30pm. When you speak to Mel or Geraldine they will give you the next date for one of our workshops. At the end of the day you will know whether this is the job for you, and we will know if you are a good fit for us. You will have built a one-page personal profile that you can use in any future job, so we hope it will be worthwhile whatever the outcome.”

And a request – please bring some lunch to share. This is not because we are too tight to provide lunch, it is because this is the ethos of how you will work together as team, bringing your skills and talents to the team. You don’t need to be a great cook at all, spending a few pounds on buying something is fine, it is the thought that matters here.”

There will be a team of six of us leading the process, older people, members of the central team, the Community Circles Connector, and me – the team coach.

Greg, the owner of Caring Hands, is committed to exploring this radically different way of working, and the new teams will start as part of the Caring Hands group. Greg is committed to the principles of teal, and we are inspired by Buurtzorg. We want to learn how the principles can be put into practice within the UK context. Our other colleague is consultant for older people, Rod Kersh, who is working with us to develop the Doncaster team, and link this to the Community Integrated Team we hope to establish in the winter.

It would be impossible to deliver a flexible, person-centred, empowering service, within the restrictions of task and time commissioned services, and 30 minute slots.  Therefore, to make this work, we can only serve people to either have a personal budget, as a direct payment or Individual Service Fund, or be funding themselves.

We have a colleague, Joe McArdle, from Chester University working with us to help evaluate the process and outcomes. We have also been linking this to Social Pedagogy, through the work of Ali Gardner from UCLAN. Ali will be blogging about this soon to explain the link.

I have the same fear as someone organising a party. Will people turn up? Will they enjoy it? Will it work out OK? I don’t know, is the honest answer, but we are certainly up for trying, and will let you know how we get on here.

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