Who or what are Micro-Providers?

Micro-Providers are providers of very small, community based care and support services.

A micro-provider has eight or fewer paid or unpaid (full time equivalent) workers and must be totally independent of any larger organisation. Examples of micro-services could include:

  • Support to keep you well, socialise and remain independent
  • Support to people living in their own homes
  • Short breaks, respite and holidays
  • Support to access employment, education and leisure
  • Day support and help around the home or garden
  • Holistic/alternative therapies
  • Dog Walking
  • Hobbies/crafts/Interests

Why is Somerset Council supporting Micro-Providers?

Because we know that:

  • People want care and support at times and in ways that suit them
  • Local people helping other local people is good for everyone and for communities
  • People value flexibility, continuity and the ability to build a trusting relationship with a local person
  • Very small organisations can offer great care and be very imaginative and responsive
  • People and their families do not always know what to look for in a Micro-Provider

We want to create the conditions where local people with good ideas can make a difference and set up their own local services. We also want to make sure that people, wherever they live in Somerset, have access to a wide range of help and support services giving them more independence, choice and control.

The Micro-Enterprise Programme

The Somerset Micro-Enterprise programme is a partnership between Somerset Council and the Community Council for Somerset. The programme offers help, advice and specialist signposting to people with good ideas to set up local helping services. The programme can support with:

  • Accessing training and Enhanced DBS checks
  • Developing Policies and Procedures
  • Creating a service portfolio
  • Understanding Regulation and Legislation
  • Links to peer support and business advice

Through the Micro-Provider Information Sessions, networking events and 1:1 support the programme supports all Micro-Providers to meet the ‘Doing it right’ Quality Standard.

Since 2015 the programme has:

  • Directly supported the development of 1170 Micro-providers in Somerset providing 31,122 hours care and support a week to 5,903 people.
  • Supported the formation and development of 16 peer-support ‘Trusted Trader Networks’ – Networks such as Wivey Cares and Taunton Trusted Providers offer local flexible options for people to find supports locally.
  • Developed an online brokerage tool to link families in Somerset to local micro-providers using an online form

What are micro-services for?

Micro-services offered by Micro-Providers are not for everyone, but they are a good option for people who:

  • Can’t get the services or support they want and would like flexible local options.
  • Have a clear idea about the kind of support they need, how they want it delivered, when and where.
  • Are able and happy to take responsibility for organising and managing their own care on an ongoing basis.

Are all Micro-Providers unregulated?

Most Micro-Providers in Somerset do not offer personal care as part of their service, but some do.

Personal care is classed as a regulated activity, and anyone providing personal care must be registered with the social care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Here is what is classed as Personal Care:

  • Eating or drinking (including the administration of parenteral nutrition)​
  • Toileting (including in relation to menstruation)
  • Washing or bathing​
  • Dressing
  • Oral Care
  • The care of skin, hair, and nails (with the exception of nail care provided by a chiropodist or podiatrist)

It is also the prompting or supervision of any of the activities mentioned above.

There is however an exemption from CQC registration if the provider is an individual and is contracted directly by the person (or related third party), working wholly under their control and direction. [1] This means that a majority of Somerset’s Micro-Providers are not able to register with the CQC.

If a person or their representative want to use a Micro-Provider who is exempt from care regulation, they will need to answer yes to all of the questions below.

  • The person knows what support or care they want, how they want it and when
  • The person is willing and able to engage directly with a provider and tell them what is needed
  • The person is willing and understands how to check the suitability of a provider and make good decisions about engaging their services
  • The person has the capacity to control, direct and co-ordinate their care and is willing and able to do so on an on-going basis

Care Quality Commission: Scope of registration (Page 14)

How do we know a Micro-Provider is safe?

To be registered as a ‘trusted provider’ on the Somerset Community Connect Enterprise programme, each provider has provided evidence that they meet the ‘Doing it Right’ quality standards of the Somerset Micro-Enterprise Programme.

This includes:

  • Enhanced DBS Checks (within 3 years of date)
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Terms of Service (Agreement/Contract)
  • Support Plan template
  • Complaints and Safeguarding Policy

The programme also offers a quality feedback loop which means that any providers or who do not share a commitment to the ‘Doing it right’ Quality Standard will be removed from the programme.

*Note: It is the responsibility of the person hiring the Micro-Provider to check their portfolio. They should be able to show you their qualifications, references and any other evidence required to show that they are a safe and responsible provider.

Last reviewed: December 6, 2023 by Paul

Next review due: June 6, 2024

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