Last week, Co-operatives UK held a seminar on mutual response to the government’s agenda of personalisation of care services. Communities and service users are setting up their own care providers in response to the direct payments and personalisation agendas. This allows them to manage their own care needs and determine appropriate responses by controlling their own budgets. By coming together as co-operatives, clients can share carers and services more effectively, and also the burden of managing carers and finances.

One of the key examples is Caring Support, a co-operative set up in Croydon, South London which the local Co-operative Party has done a little to support. Caring Support was profiled in the Guardian the other week. Their idea is for small groups of up to 15 service users to be matched with personal care assistants, engendering a spirit of community. The service is aimed both at self-funders, who don’t qualify for state support for care, and those who receive direct payments to fund care arrangements.

The big challenge is for government to ensure it is maintaining standards and showing proper care for this vulnerable group, while still relaxing the regulations enough to allow new entrants to the care market and recognise that these organisations have different needs and abilities.