Give&Take Care

Jul 04, 2017

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Give care now, receive it in the future

Updated July 2017 as the first local scheme gets underway

Wokingham and Reading is the first area signed up for Give&Take Care

Organised by Age Concern Twyford, the Give&Take Care scheme has started to operate in this part of Berkshire*.

Other areas where the scheme should be up and running soon are Manchester, Slough, Brighton and some parts of London.

How is it working in practice?

The principle is very simple. A volunteer is matched locally with someone who requires some care support.

Each hour of support given is logged in the volunteer’s “care bank account”, and can be claimed back in care services when required in the future.

The Age Concern Twyford scheme charges £40 year, £20 for membership of the Age Concern day centre and £20 for 20 hours of care. Subsequent hours of care attract a nominal admin fee of £1.

This fee is paid to Give&Take Care, to fund the running of a small office and IT system; matching care givers and receivers; and recording hours of care banked/spent.

Any remaining funds are returned to the charities who deliver the scheme, thus providing them with an extra source of income.

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Community-based reciprocal support relies on volunteering

As long as people in the local area get involved, both as CareGivers and CareReceivers, the scheme should flourish.

Rates of volunteering are very stable over time, with just over four out of ten people reporting that they had volunteered in the past year, according to NCVO / Institute for Volunteering Research.

As people get older, greater numbers are involved with some sort of community-based volunteering, either formal or informal.

Centre for Ageing Better research found that more than two thirds of 50–74-year olds participated in some sort of volunteering in 2015–2016, and perhaps not surprisingly, participation rates were highest among those aged 65 to 74, when retirement allows more time for public-spirited activities.

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Volunteering is growing in popularity amongst the young

A very positive finding is that the proportion of young people volunteering has increased by more than half in recent years.

In 2010/11, nearly a quarter of 16-24 year olds said they volunteered formally, at least once a month. By 2014/15 that figure was 35%.

That represents an increase of more than 50%, and in real terms, would mean around one million more young volunteers (NCVO / Institute for Volunteering Research).

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Give&Take Care aims to harness that philanthropic drive

In an interesting twist on the idea of saving money now for when you may need it in the future, Give&TakeCare wants us to think about investing our time in providing voluntary care when we’re young, which can then be claimed back in later life, when we are in need of some help ourselves.

Young volunteers who care for elderly people could bank the hours they put in as care for themselves when they need it in later life.

At a time when local authorities are planning to raise council tax by up to 15%, to fill the black hole in funding for social care, and the Local Government Association has warned that the system is “on the brink of failing altogether”, the time is right for a new approach.

Give&Take hopes to attract some of the millions of people who give unpaid care to loved ones. By joining, they can save up a care ‘pension’ which they could either claim back as care for themselves in later life, or use for care for a relative.

The banked time, which will be managed by the the East of England Co-operative Society, is immune to inflation or market crashes.

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“An hour today is an hour tomorrow, and it’s still an hour in 20 years’ time.”

Give&Take Care received £1 million from Innovate UK, which is a government agency that supports science and tech innovations which can help boost the economy.

The directors, popular scientist Professor Heinz Wolff and Dr Gabriela Spinelli from Brunel University, see Give&Take Care as the only solution to the current catastrophic situation, where there is simply not enough money to pay for care needs.

If the scheme attracts enough people to join, it could be beneficial to hundreds of thousands of people across the country, who are providing unpaid care to partners, friends or family members.

Gabriela Spinelli explains:

“We see this as the only solution to the increasing number of elderly people. Many housebound older people are lonely, which leads to malnutrition and depression. Human contact can also help stave off Dementia, so by preventing these, this could save the NHS and Social Services vast amounts.”

“It may go against the grain for people who think care should be paid for by Government. But the economic argument is against them.”

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Professor Wolff sees further benefits to come, noting that Give&Take could also be used to improve the skills of current informal carers who are doing their best without training or support, thereby improving the quality of care across the UK.

More funding promised if the scheme can be made to work nationally

With the promise of potential government funding, Professor Wolff and Dr Spinelli are in talks with local authorities and The Care Quality Commission to work out how Give&Take can work as an alternative national care system.

The Local Government Association has calculated that an extra £2.6 billion will be needed by the end of the decade, to avoid swingeing cuts to social care provision.

You can read more about Give&Take Care on their website (it will open in a new browser window)

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* To sign up as a CareGiver or CareReceiver in Wokingham and Reading, you can email or telephone on 0118 327 3538.

What do you think?

The current approach to social care is deeply flawed. Is this the best alternative? Do you think people will be ready to invest their time now, in return for future care?

You can add your ideas in the comments below, or email them to me,

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