Co-production is Making Life Better for People who use Direct Payments – and we LOVE Co-operating!

In 2018, Swansea local authority announced changes in the commissioning and tendering process for care and support services. This now means people are at risk of losing the provider and carer that they have built up a relationship with. The alternative is for them to register for Direct Payments, which will give them the option to decide who they want to purchase their care and support from; either from an agency or to become the employer themselves.

Care to Co-operate received an enquiry from ‘Community Lives Consortium’ on behalf of a group of five people who are affected by these changes. In the spirit of co-production, Community Lives Consortium, the service provider that currently supports the group to live independently, wanted to share ideas with the friends about their future options for care and support services. It has helped them to develop their own capacity and skills to take control of their future.

All five, who have learning disabilities, have decided to access Direct Payments and constitute a small independent co-operative, so that they can purchase care and support services themselves. They have decided to name their emerging co-operative ‘Friends United Together’.

By working together as a co-operative and pooling their Direct Payments, Friends United Together can spend more time together, and as members of the co-operative, they have greater voice and control over the type of care and support they purchase. Also, the co-operative will directly employ their Support Workers in future!

Friends United Together has met fortnightly with Care to Co-operate’s Adviser, Joanne Bartlett, to participate in workshops and activities to investigate what it means to be a co-operative. Drawing on Care to Co-operate’s ‘Road to Co-operation’, Friends United Together is navigating its way through the steps to set up a new co-operative, learning how to manage the co-operative, open a bank account, and understand their roles and responsibilities as members. 

Care to Co-operate has supported people and organisations to work co-operatively, to design and run services, for over three years. Do you have an idea for a care and support co-operative?  If so, Care to Co-operate would love to speak to you! You can get in touch by e-mail [email protected], call 0300 111 5050, visit or tweet us at @ThomasWalesCoop

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