Piloting co-operative care in London: the final quarter

Following on from our previous blogs at the beginning and mid-point of our LOTI pilot, we shifted our focus to producing a service specification, evaluation framework and playbook for Commons-based care as we entered the last quarter. In this blog I will summarise some of these experiences and what work remains to be done.

Service Specification 

We firmly believe that innovation in care provision necessitates innovation in commissioning. That’s why we integrated a Care Commons Service Specification into the project. In social care, a service specification acts as a blueprint, it ensures consistent standards across providers and guides improvements while respecting service users’ rights and dignity. Beyond these immediate benefits, service specifications can also contribute to broader transformations within the social care landscape. They can stimulate innovation by encouraging providers to explore new approaches and technologies, ultimately leading to more effective, personalised care. Furthermore, they can support the development of a heterogeneous market by promoting the development of different models of care, as well as forms of ownership and provision. 

Traditionally, care provision has been perceived as a commodity, managed by centralised systems and processes. In contrast, rooted in the intrinsic value of relationships and collaborative systems, the concept of the Care Commons redefines care as a common pool resource, community-managed asset and collective responsibility. The development of a Service Specification for Commons-based care aims to broaden service offerings to include unconventional care methods and utilise technology for improved connectivity.

Through advocating multi-stakeholder governance and fostering collaboration, adaptability, and knowledge sharing, this initiative strives to enhance care provision’s effectiveness and sustainability within communities. By integrating formal care with informal networks at a hyperlocal level, it lays the groundwork for a more dynamic and responsive social care landscape, prioritising community co-production in service delivery and ongoing evaluation and governance. 

This Service Specification signifies a fundamental departure from traditional approaches, signalling a shift towards a more inclusive, collaborative, and community-driven approach to social care provision. It not only establishes clear care delivery standards but also acts as a catalyst for transformative change, paving the way for a fairer and more sustainable future for all stakeholders in the social care ecosystem.

Evaluation Framework

As we pilot a new model of home care, it’s essential to establish a robust evaluation framework. This framework serves multiple crucial purposes: firstly, it provides a means to quantify our impact and create a solid evidence base validating the efficacy of our approach. This evidence is invaluable, particularly when engaging with sceptics wedded to traditional methods. Secondly, the evaluation framework acts as a tool for continual improvement, allowing us to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for enhancement as we navigate the complexities of implementing a novel care paradigm. 

In essence, it’s not just about proving ourselves to sceptics, but also about testing our own assumptions, checking we are indeed achieving what we are setting out to do and, of course, refining and optimising our approach to better serve those in our care and the wider community. 

A group of people sat around a desk working on a something on flipchart paper together.

Evaluation workshop attended by team owners, carers, family members, volunteers and members of local community services.

We kickstarted the development of the evaluation framework by revisiting our theory of change with community members in Clapton to make sure we measure what matters to people. The workshop was attended by care workers, Team Owners, volunteers, and members of local community organisations and services and researchers from UCL.

We are currently testing the surveys we have developed to measure the lived experience of the service from multiple perspectives. Researchers in our team are currently interviewing community members about their experience of co-production and its impact on individual quality of life and local care networks. We have begun assessing the scalability of this model with researchers at the UCL Department of Town Planning and exploring how best to measure its social value. Meanwhile, we are working with our platform team to identify what passive data we are collecting that can provide a richer picture of the service performance.

By project completion, the evaluation framework will encompass a variety of tested approaches and tools, facilitating the measurement of cooperative care. It will prioritise capturing the full spectrum of stakeholders’ lived experiences of the service and quality of life,  as opposed to the conventional metrics typically utilised in traditional care services.


The playbook aims to equip both local authorities and community groups with practical tools and guidance for developing cooperative home care services. For local authorities, it offers a self-assessment tool to gauge the feasibility of establishing such services within their jurisdiction, while also identifying key financial, regulatory, and structural barriers. Additionally, it outlines strategies for collaborating with local community groups in the co-production of these services, emphasising ongoing involvement in service delivery, evaluation, and governance. 

Specific attention is given to addressing cultural and ethnic considerations and supporting identity-based circles. For community groups, the playbook provides resources for assessing financial viability, identifying local barriers and opportunities, and mapping pathways to service development using Equal Care’s digital platform. It also highlights factors for minority racialised community groups to consider when engaging in circle development. Overall, the playbook offers a comprehensive framework to foster the successful establishment of cooperative home care services tailored to the needs of diverse communities.

Innovation toolkit 

Taken together, the service specification, evaluation framework, and playbook provide local authorities with a comprehensive suite of tools and resources to enable innovation and system change in social care. The service specification embodies a shift towards a hybrid service that integrates the best of formal and informal systems of care and promotes multi-stakeholder governance. The evaluation framework ensures that outcomes are measured based on what matters most to communities, facilitating ongoing improvement and scalability assessment. Meanwhile, the playbook offers practical guidance for navigating barriers and opportunities in cooperative home care development, fostering collaboration and addressing diverse community needs. By integrating these components, local authorities can effectively reimagine care provision as a community-managed asset, enhancing its effectiveness and sustainability within diverse communities. 

We look forward to introducing these outputs in a forthcoming show and tell with the LOTI Community. For all the updates relating to this project, visit the LOTI project webpage

This blog post has been written by Luke Tanner, Equal Care Co-op London Circle Founder.

Adult Social Care Fund Service Design

Luke Tanner
22 April 2024 ·
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