A TWO-YEAR pilot project has been launched to help provide health and social care for elderly people in hard-to-reach areas of the county.

Under the Community Catalysts scheme, work will be undertaken with local people who want to develop small enterprises and ventures offering highly personal care and help at home to older people and others that need support.

Dorset County Council was encouraged by the success of a similar project in Somerset and wanted to start its own scheme.

Helen Coombes, transformation programme lead for adults and communities at the county council, said: “We have watched the achievements that Community Catalysts have made in many parts of the country and are excited to work with them to achieve similar success in Dorset. The project is about helping local people to help local people.

“We will work with local communities, primary care, voluntary sector and community groups to help people to support each other. We are starting in areas of North and West Dorset where we have the greatest difficulty matching people’s needs with available care, with the aim to bring this approach to life across the whole of Dorset.”

Work will start in Sherborne Rural, the Blackmore Vale and Winterbourne in North Dorset, where increasing the number and range of homecare and support options available to local people is seen as a real priority.

The scheme is also being rolled out to the Three Valleys area of West Dorset

As well as helping people to set up new businesses, the partners will also advise existing community enterprises established in Dorset looking to diversify or extend what they offer.

The county council says the project will build on things that already work well, and “value and nurture people, groups and organisations with strong local knowledge and expertise”. It also aims to “capture learning and actively use this to develop local system and culture change – working hard to improve the way that health and care works for everyone in the county.”

The project in Dorset and a parallel initiative in Shropshire are supported by a partnership with technology company Bronze Labs and their Tribe web platform.