Care Farming established in the UK in the early 2000s. (Please note: The terms “Care Farming and Social Farming” are to all intents and purposes interchangeable and mean the same thing.) Emerging from the foot and mouth crisis as a way of diversification, care farming has developed into a wide-ranging sector. The UK currently has around 240 care farming businesses that provide opportunities, both therapeutically and work-based, for adults with mental health issues, physical and acquired brain injuries.
In the early stages, care farming was labelled as ‘niche’ and something ‘hippies’ did. Slowly, with time and greater understanding, this stereotype is changing. However there is still a large section of the population which is unaware of what nature-based interventions are and, in particular, care farming.
The concept of a care farm is quite simple: to combine agricultural production with health and social services provided to people with different types of disabilities.
The general public is understandably a little hazy as to what a social farm in the UK is, so some explanation is in order.
There are long established Trusts, such as Camphill Village and Home Farm, which offer wonderful long term and/or permanent homes in a farm-like environment to persons with permanent or semi-permanent disabilities, both mental and physical. The public is generally quite well informed about these. A social farm, by and large, is concerned with two groups of clients: firstly those with learning disabilities, depression and similar mental disorders – hopefully of a temporary nature – and, secondly, with dementia sufferers, whose needs are a little different. The expectation is that clients in the first group will get better and move back into general society after a period spent working on a social farm.
The typical social farm has clients referred to it by the social services, NHS and medical profession. It generally (but not always) operates on a day care basis, normally on a 5-day week, and clients would be transported to it daily from external sources.
The owner of a social farm is responsible for the welfare, comfort and safety of clients while on his/her premises. He/she provides suitable accommodation and meals for the patients while under their care. A social farm should operate like a commercial farm, albeit with sufficient trained staff to take care of the needs/deployment of the clients. Its enterprises should preferably include livestock and horticulture and, because of the special needs of the clients, are unlikely to be viable per se.
The sector is mostly regulated and each care farm is “licensed” to provide a certain number of “places”.
The owner is remunerated directly by an individual or their family, in some cases directly by the council of health authority, normally at a daily rate. It goes without saying that the owners and paid employees on a care farm need to be properly trained and have the right kind of mindset and attitude for this demanding work.
How Can Asquith’s Help?
Robin has over 4 years experience managing care farms and has been a director of Care Farming UK since October 2015. In 2016 Robin was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship which enabled him to spend 10 weeks across the world visiting care farms to increase his knowledge of the industry and help lead positive change here in the U.K. Robin wants to be able to pass on what he has learnt to others to help people develop their own care farms.
Robin can offer care farming consultancy advice and training. We can help and advise anyone wanting to establish a care farm, make improvements to an existing enterprise or help them progress through Care Farming UK’s Code of Practice. Within our consultancy we can provide template policies and procedures, template forms, help to facilitate communication with local authorities and health organisations and much more.
Robin runs face to face training and web based discussion forums. Courses include; Setting up a Care Farm; What is Care Farming and how can it help us; Working with disabled adults; Health & Safety on a Care Farm. The training can be delivered on your farm to staff, or as part of a regional group or on an individual basis. Bespoke courses can be developed on request. For more information on this please get in touch with Robin.
Farmers are busy people, and paperwork is often not a desirable job. For some farmers this is the biggest inhibitor to opening up their farm to trainees. Asquith’s can help, we can help manage your paperwork, from helping you complete health and safety forms, to how to develop person centred development folders for trainees, and keep up to date with local authority providers list. Just get in touch for more information.