Alzheimer Scotland is creating an employee-owned off-shoot to run its care at home services
A new Scottish social enterprise promises to create a better working environment for third sector social care staff.
Charity Alzheimer Scotland is joining forces with Stewartry Care, a successful employee-owned social care body in Dumfries and Galloway, to launch Caledonia Social Care.
The business will take over the running of Alzheimer Scotland’s existing care at home services, which operate across central Scotland, from April next year.
We believe that Stewarty Care, and other employee owned social care organisations, have developed an exceptional model that improves the role and level of ownership of every employee in their organisationsHenry Simmons
Caledonia Social Care, which will have an annual turnover of around £3.5 million, will be run as a workers cooperative. Staff will be paid at least the Living Wage, will be able to appoint directors and benefit from annual dividends.
Alzheimer Scotland is set to be the main shareholder in the business initially but hopes to eventually hand it over fully to its staff.
The charity's chief executive Henry Simmons told TFN he believed the organisation has a bright future and is the best way to protect jobs and ensure the continuation of high-quality and specialist dementia home-care services.
“We believe that Stewarty Care, and other employee owned social care organisations, have developed an exceptional model that improves the role and level of ownership of every employee in their organisations,” he said.
“Our preference is to emulate this model, and to establish Caledonia Social Care as an employee-owned entity. This brings great benefits to all the staff. It means that they are shareholders within the organisation, it means they can benefit from dividends, but most importantly it means that they will have an effective voice all the way through the organisation.”
A total of 180 staff are to be transferred to Caledonia Social Care from Alzheimer’s Scotland in April next year – a fifth of the organisation’s existing workforce.
Scottish charities provide a large amount of Scotland’s social care services on behalf of local authorities, however as a result of changes to the way services are contracted and cuts in funding, many are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.
Simmons told TFN Alzheimer Scotland has had to subsidise its local social care services for the last few years. He said the new organisation will broaden its remit to provide general home care services and be in a better position to grow.
“We are a dementia specific provider, and we don’t operate on high volumes of provision, so even small fluctuations in service provision can create serious resourcing problems for our local services, for our service managers, and it also places significant pressure on our local finances,” he said.
He added: “We had to create a new entity that was separate from Alzheimer Scotland because Alzheimer Scotland can only provide services for people with dementia. We’re also not really that business orientated. We’ve never focused on growing our services and becoming a big social care provider.”
The charity, which last year had a £20m turnover and employed 1,000 staff, will continue to provide a range of services to improve the quality of life for people with dementia in the community, as well as continuing its campaigning, policy and advocacy work.
Staff will be transferred over to the new body under their existing terms and conditions and there will be no redundancies. Derek Oliver and Stuart Robertson, both currently service managers at Alzheimer Scotland, will be part of the new social enterprise’s management team.
Margaret Paterson, currently managing director of Stewartry Care, which currently provides services for 220 people, will lead Caledonia Social Care.
She said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to work in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland to create a new employee owned company. The company will have employee owners and the people they support and care for at the heart of everything they do”.
“Employee ownership is a dynamic business model, well suited to the care sector. It empowers everyone to develop and also to work towards a sustainable future for Caledonia Social Care.”
Dee Fraser, deputy director of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland, said: “We welcome this new service development from Alzheimer Scotland to meet the need for quality care at home services in Scotland. Developing responsive services in collaboration with others is one of the key strengths of third sector care and support providers and this is a good example of this kind of partnership working.”