A Solution to the Home Care Crisis?

January 29, 2015 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Design and Society, Fellowship, Innovation 

The BBC reported yesterday that spending on care is in down by a fifth.  While this puts a figure on the amount that it’s been cut over the past decade, the fact that home care is in crisis is well known.  Demand is up, money to fund it is down, too few people want to do the work and the way it’s run keeps meaningful, caring relationships from forming between workers and those they care for.

In response, Labour announced this week that if it wins the election it will integrate services ‘from home to hospital’, helping end 15-minute care slots and incentivising providers to improve social care. Not only that, they’ll also provide 5,000 more home care workers and offer all vulnerable older people a safety check.

While this is all good, there’s something not quite right about it – the whiff of advisors sitting round a table shouting out solutions to someone sticking a stack of post-it notes on the wall.  ‘A safety check for everyone’ ‘Free walking sticks for all’ ‘A 1,000 extra homecare workers’ ‘Is that enough?’ ‘Make it 5,000 then’.

Other parties will not be too far behind in their promises, which will be less or more generous, but will all share the same trait.  They will be headline grabbing, with this amount of money pledged or that policy change all that’s needed to make the difference.  It will lack the sense that they’ve thought deeply about the problem and reached a considered response working in partnership with those closest to the issues.

Here at the RSA we’ve been discussing home care rather a lot recently, more specifically a Dutch home care company called Buurtzorg, due to its pioneering organisational model.  It’s a company with 6,500 nurses and 35 back office staff.  Yes, that’s right, 35 back office staff supporting 6,500 frontline staff who in turn look after 60,000 patients a year.

The way they work is to arrange nurses into autonomous units of 12 and let them operate largely as they decide.  A strong IT system not only makes the finance, HR and other central parts of the business easy to use and efficient, it also provides strong social networking to share ideas and help each other solve problems.

This lack of hierarchical management, replaced by self-organisation and increased trust, has turned the traditional hierarchical model on its head.  Care workers decide themselves how to spend their time, choosing to spend more of it with individual clients, building up relationships and trust.  In a study of client satisfaction Buurtzorg came top out of 307 community care organisations.  It turns out to be cost effective too as the model leads to more prevention, a shorter period of care and less spending on overheads.  This is all incredibly impressive.

One of the powerful things about it is that it began with nurses themselves.  Jos de Blok, the founder, is a former nurse who didn’t like the way home care was organised in Holland, which was similar to the way it is currently organised here with very short, timed visits and no allowance for the social side of care or the development of a meaningful relationship between carer and client.

Rather than wait for someone else to fix it he decided to do something about it himself, starting his own organisation with three other nurses in 2006.  There were no special dispensations from Government, no grants to get it off the ground, he competed with everyone else on equal terms and Buurtzorg is now the leading supplier of home care in Holland by a large margin.

Something similar would be fantastic to have here, not only to improve home care in this country, but also to increase staff well-being and to demonstrate that a completely different type of organisation is possible.  You can wait to see if political parties and their pledges can make all the difference, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.  Instead, if you are a Fellow working in this area, I’d love to hear from you to see if we can start a Buurtzorg type revolution ourselves.

Oliver Reichardt is the Director of Fellowship at the RSA
Follow him @OliverReichardt

 

The Big Idea: The Rubbish Diet

January 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

rubbish diet logo

Imagine a world where we don’t throw anything away. Everything is reused, composted or recycled and people living on the same street work together and share resources.

Katy Anderson FRSA from social enterprise Cwm Harry is working towards this vision of a zero waste world through The Rubbish Diet, the UK’s slimming club for bins. She would like to invite Fellows across the UK to join the thousands of people who are helping bringing zero waste closer by committing to a completely new kind of New Year’s Diet.

 Why?

Across the UK, huge amounts of valuable recyclable materials are being lost to landfill and incineration.  In West London, where the Rubbish Diet is working in six boroughs, 67% of the waste sent to landfill could have been recycled.

It goes to landfill by train, the waste train is one-third of a mile long, taking 1,000 tonnes of “rubbish”, six days a week.  1,000,000 recyclable bottles a week go to landfill every week on the train, when they could have been made into new bottles and been back on the supermarket shelves in just 3 weeks.

How does it work?

Anyone can join The Rubbish Diet by taking an easy online challenge to slim their bins. The Diet will motivate you to set a goal and measure your progress by tackling two simple steps over just a few weeks.

You’ll receive emails with great tips on how to recycle to the max, make the most of your food and avoid waste altogether. Dieters experience very quickly the positive difference their actions make to their waste and they are encouraged to share their ideas and questions, creating a whole new conversation about waste reduction and the positive impact it has on our lives.

Dieters then spread the word amongst their friends and family, and so the Diet grows…

Crucially, The Rubbish Diet tackles the issues that make it hard to avoid waste – this quarter we’re focusing on packaging, culminating with a workshop at the Resource Event on Thursday 5 March 2015.

The Results

On average people slim their bins by 40% on the Diet, and the change is permanent.  Slimming your bin will save you money as you’ll reduce food waste and start reusing more, and it has obvious benefits for the environment – food waste alone in the UK is the equivalent of one in four cars on our roads in terms of carbon emissions.

Thousands of people have already taken the Rubbish Diet across UK, taking it online, in collaboration with their whole street or in a group. Jackie and Howard from Shrewsbury took the Diet with their street, meeting to talk rubbish with their neighbours over tea and cake.  They now have slim bins, run clothes swaps and share trips to the recycling centre, and have gotten to know their neighbours! Since they started two years ago, they’ve saved 6 tonnes from landfill.

Ashley Street Dieters two years on

Ashley Street Dieters two years on

Simon who shrank his overflowing wheelie bin by two thirds said:

“I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved – you could heat the house on my smugness.  The whole family is loving our weekly trip to the market where we can buy food with less packaging, and save money too”.

Taking a close look at what we throw away has a real impact on our lifestyles. As Dieter Sarah from Harrow explains.

“I thought I was good at recycling, but The Rubbish Diet Challenge has really made a big impact on how I view, well, everything in fact.  It’s really changed my life. It made me think about the make do and mend culture that everyone had back in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. I am much more careful about what I buy, and I reuse and mend much more than I used to. ”    

The Rubbish Diet solution finally provides a structured, yet fun, community based way to recycle. Sign-up and let Katy know how you think it could be shared in your area.

Katy Anderson is Co-founder of The Rubbish Diet Challenge.  To find out more visit http://www.therubbishdiet.org.uk/ or contact Katy on katya@therubbishdiet.org.uk

Maybe we can eat our way out?

December 23, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Social Economy 

Food cuts through society on so many levels that perhaps focusing on how we feed ourselves is the best chance we have to achieve progressive social change. If an army marches on its stomach, perhaps social action starts at our kitchen table.

 

Ie potatoes

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RSA Live-streaming: GTA University Centre

This is a guest blog from the team at GTA University Centre, Guernsey who have been live-streaming RSA events and lectures on a regular basis.   RSA EVENTS

Many of the RSA events are live-streamed, aiming to reach those unable to make the regular trip to London. A great example of an organisation that uses this feature is the GTA University Centre, a not-for-profit training provider based in Guernsey, who regularly overcome the distance barrier and bring the RSA to their local community. Marketing Manager, Duncan Spencer, tells us about his experience.

“Guernsey may be a small island but it has a diverse economy and does business on an international scale, and we have found that there is a real desire to hear the latest ideas in business, technology and societal development.”

GTA began hosting livestream events from the RSA at the beginning of this year as a means of introducing new ideas to the Island’s community. We aim to provide opportunities for Guernsey audiences to listen to high quality, innovative and educational speakers and participate in a lively discussion on the subject, but with a local focus. RSA livestream programmes are available to all online, but we believe we can add extra value by bringing people together to share the experience and enjoy a stimulating debate and discussion prompted by the RSA speaker and the Q&As. Read more

Pioneering social innovation in Malaysia

Genovasi Malaysia logoThis blog was originally posted on the news page of the RSA Student Design Awards website on 4th August 2014.

I am pleased to announce that nine emerging Malaysian innovators have won in the inaugural RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards, winning a range of prizes worth a total of RM260,000. In addition, the winners all receive admission into Genovasi’s Innovation Ambassador Development Programme, complementary RSA Fellowship for a year, providing the students with access to the RSA’s Catalyst Fund and Skills Bank to further develop their projects.

The RSA Student Design Awards team partnered with Genovasi, a transformative learning institution focused on cultivating innovation skills in young people to develop and deliver the RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards, which launching in September 2013. Genovasi offers a human-centred learning experience to learn and use innovation for social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development for future transferable skills to face challenges in life. The RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards focused on three project briefs for this pilot year: Active Citizens, Encouraging Social Entrepreneurship, and Citizenship and Communication in a Digital Age.

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Developing Socially Productive Places

July 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Social Economy 

 

 

Today we publish Developing Socially Productive Places, which explores the relationship between the physical and social aspects of community-building and place-making. We want to challenge and support local authorities, developers, communities and businesses to deepen their understanding of what makes places good for people in the long term. (Social productivity is defined as the additional social value that can be created through better relationships between citizens, society, business and public services.)

During a period when property values are rising in most parts of the UK and development activity is picking up, a key concern of local authorities and other accountable bodies is that economic growth must benefit residents while improving public finances. Many areas face population pressures and ageing infrastructure, and new development is a key driver of change.

Development is one of the most powerful drivers of local political engagement, and therefore the planning process represents a significant gateway to stronger community relations and dialogue on a range of issues.

In the report, the RSA draws on the keynote address made to April’s conference by former housing minister Mark Prisk MP. Mark Prisk outlined the challenge to provide dense development while balancing the need for long-term flexibility and public and private interests. Several examples in the report illustrate how progressive approaches can support socially and economically valuable outcomes at different stages of the development process – from engaging communities in planning to evaluating impact on well-being.

The report argues planning and development can learn from locations like the school gate, which foster social interactions. (Image credit: Jade Cheng)

The report argues planning and development can make more of public space by learning from locations like the school gate, which foster social interactions. (Image credit: Jade Cheng)

The financial crisis of 2008 led to a stalling of many development projects across the UK and highlighted the fragility of relying on corporate financing to change the physical assets in a place. From a tumultuous period of recent economic history, new approaches to placemaking are beginning to emerge, often led or catalysed by community groups, and based on a clear expression of values and outcomes.

Creativity, appropriation, and a rediscovery of the ability of citizens to shape their everyday spaces are highlighting the benefits of emergent and adaptive approaches – with ‘pop-up’ and ‘meanwhile’ temporary uses becoming more common in the mainstream landscape.

We argue transition should be considered a structural feature of the way places will be built, with a new set of tools that deal with this uncertainty.

The report highlights that developing places involves initiatives big and small, temporary and long-lasting. Development does not always have to come from developers. A plurality of approaches is needed. While community-led development approaches can be nimble, large corporate developers can bring significant value, leveraging money, resources and expertise beyond that available locally, and having the ability to operate at speed and scale. This means all types of developers will require a wide range of new competencies: successful place-making requires an understanding of how people, households and community networks respond to and use the opportunities afforded by the built environment.

Socially productive places are neighbourhoods and districts where people are enabled individually and collectively to meet their own needs and achieve their aspirations for issues which matter to them.

Policymakers need to do more to develop frameworks in which communities, developers and councils can sustain long term partnerships. Long-term property value is driven by the long-term economic relevance of an asset. Remaining relevant in the long-term requires places to be adaptable. Managing the forces and harnessing the potential of development through planning requires resources, capacity and coordination. Local authorities therefore have a crucial role in using planning and development to reinforce wider social and economic objectives.

Ultimately the success of a development should be judged by its impact on those who use it, and its ability to contribute to a broader set of social and economic outcomes.  Planning is a frontline public service, which doesn’t exist in isolation from other public sector roles which influence how a place functions. Investing in planning can bring value to other public sector objectives, and pro-actively strengthen relationships between developers, incoming people and businesses and existing communities.

Progress will only be made if both public and private sectors, individuals and community groups, collaborate in new ways. We want today’s report to stimulate conversations up and down the UK about how we can best develop socially productive places.

Jonathan Schifferes is a Senior Researcher and lead author for the report. He is working on the City Growth Commission and you can follow him on Twitter (@jschifferes)

Global Fellowship in Action: the RSA in Brussels!

July 18, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

This is the second in a series of blogs exploring the work of Fellows across the world and is a guest blog by Alain Ruche, RSA Connector for Belgium.

With the Fellowship present in nearly 100 countries, and new ideas regularly springing up, we are in exciting times for the international impact of the RSA.  If you would like to find out more or have ideas of your own, please contact Laura Southerland of the International team who will be happy to assist you.

Garage Culturel As the European capital and a vibrant city, Brussels has great potential for growing a dynamic RSA Fellowship network. Since I joined the Society three years ago and became the RSA Connector for Belgium, I have been gathering Fellows at the wonderful Garage Culturel which my wife Olga, now a Fellow as well, is running at our place. With Olaf, the latest newcomer to the group, we have been stubbornly meeting on the first Friday of every month between 18.00 and 20.30 for about 8 months now.

Growing a community of Fellows outside of the UK is not without its challenges – we recently opted for organising a social event mixing Fellows with non-Fellows whom we believe might be interested in joining, or share the same values and interests as Fellows of the RSA. Among the attendees, were several accomplished artists (dancers, actors and a pianist); representatives of international organisations (British Council, Club of Rome), diplomats, academics, NGO professionals, social activists and EU officials – in total, 35 people representing 15 nationalities from four continents. The evening was lively and entertaining as we were able to hire a jazz band comprised of a number of talented young musicians.

We are now thinking of testing another approach with our network in order to invite discussion around important social issues. A member of the group will introduce a topic and initiate a meaningful conversation, followed by socialising for those who would like to stay on. We will adopt the ‘etiquette’ of the world’s cafes: connect, listen carefully, ask focused questions, look for new insights, allow for disagreement but avoid pushing individual agendas. Such a meeting would end with a concrete action that all involved can endeavor to undertake in the short term. We will be starting this new format in September and as RSA Connector, I will be introducing the first topic – ‘the role of culture in international relations.’

Then in late September we will welcome Michael Bauwens FRSA at the Garage to lead a conversation on the emerging collaborative paradigm of which he is himself a world-known actor, as founder of the P2P Foundation.

We remain persistent in our mission to raise the profile of the RSA in Brussels. We believe that we can have fun and meaningful conversations. The Garage is a great place to meet people and connect. I happen also to be a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar and of the Club of Rome EU Chapter, and a global ambassador of Kosmos Journal, but every one of us has useful connections to bring to the table. Recent research shows that connections within local neighbourhoods provide a more powerful means of relating to the world than long distance contacts.

Let’s build on this social capital together and see what emerges from it!

If you are a Fellow based in Brussels and would like to join the emerging Brussels network then get in touch with Alain, at ruche_alain@yahoo.fr. Information about the next meeting at the Garage Culturel is detailed below:

When? Thursday 25 September 2014, 7-10pm

Where? www.garageculturel.com, 79 rue D’Albanie, B-1060

Who? Michael Bauwens FRSA

About? The emerging P2P paradigm

 

Should we be trying to ‘prevent’ floods, or adapting to their eventuality?

June 27, 2014 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Social Economy 

Jobs for an intern: make tea, edit references, keep your head down and do the grunt work. Perhaps, but not at the RSA – here they encourage you to speak up, to blog and to generally make your voice heard. It is both refreshing and a little intimidating. So when I got invited to attend a meeting at the start of this week I managed to do what I perhaps should not have done: I took a lot of notes and kept my mouth shut, but my ears open. There is much to condemn this strategy but I tell you something, you tend to learn a lot that way. As one might expect from a meeting between think tanks, there was some general confusion as to who was meant to be facilitating who but if anything this seemed to lead to a very productive meeting. The subject of the meeting:  How can local government help communities be more resilient despite devastating flooding in the UK – especially since the climate change models seem to suggest this is is going to be a more regular occurrence in the future. 

How can local government help communities be more resilient despite devastating flooding in the UK – especially since the climate change models seem to suggest this is is going to be a more regular occurrence in the future.  

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Emerging Ecologies at the RSA

June 24, 2014 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Social Economy, Uncategorized 

A week into my Research Intern post at the RSA and amongst the swarm of buzz words, project titles TLAs, people’s names and lunch recommendations there is already a glimmer of the range and impact of the RSA projects.

I find myself in the privileged position of ‘straddling’ two separate yet, as it appears, deeply connected projects. The projects come underneath the RSA’s Action and Research Centre; one is a new project, with a London Borough Council, that is part of the Connected Communities (ConCom) team and the other is part of the City Growth Commission (CGC). 

Initially the obvious difference in scales of the subject areas delineates the projects very clearly, yet in reality they are looking very similar processes.

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The beautiful game on the other side of the tracks

June 12, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Social Economy 

“Tell me how you play,” wrote the South American writer Eduardo Galeano, “and I’ll tell you who you are.”

The FIFA World Cup starts today in Brazil, with 32 teams each pitting their national football culture against the others and hoping that their own sporting identity emerges triumphant.

And yet from a certain angle, it has been difficult to tell who, or what, football really ‘is’ lately. The sport has been obscured by corruption at the top of the game’s governing body, as well as the misdirection of public funds and widespread evictions sparking huge protests against FIFA in Brazil. Recent racism and sexism scandals have given the game a sour taste, as have the pathetic soap operas concerning pampered millionaire players. Most deplorably, stories are emerging of the deadly conditions experienced by indentured migrant labourers building stadia for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

It’s sometimes difficult to remember why I love this game. But a story that took place far away from the razzmatazz of the World Cup has served as a timely reminder for me of what football can and should be about; the joy and creativity of play, the determination to compete, and the thrill of the unexpected. The story is about a group of Guatemalan sex workers who grasped their power to create, formed a football team and played to show who they really are: human beings. Read more

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