The enclosed below is taken from the Natural England Commissioned Report NECR155 – 19 Aug 2014
“Care farming: Defining the ‘offer’ in England”:
Care farms provide health, social and educational care services through supervised, structured programmes of farming-related activities for a wide range of people, including those with learning disabilities, people with autism spectrum disorders, those with a drug history, people on probation, young people at risk and older people. There are around 230 care farms in the UK. Care Farming UK and government need to develop an integrated approach to drive up the scale and quality of service provision and better targeting of those users with the greatest need. Networks of care farm practitioners need to be strengthened where they exist, and established where they don’t. There is an urgent need to work with health and social care, education and probation commissioning agencies to raise their awareness of care farming services.
Natural England engaged Care Farming UK to undertake a review of the care farming sector to better define the full range of health and education services provided by the sector. The findings from this collaborative project with Care Farming UK, the University of Essex and the University of Leeds, will be used to inform work underway to drive up standards and to increase the scale and coherence of service provision, thereby improving the ‘offer’ care farming can make to the relevant health, probation and education commissioning bodies.
Care farming is a commitment within the Natural Environment White Paper through the Higher Level Stewardship Educational Access option.
In the UK there are approximately 230 care farms. Care farms provide health, social and educational care services through supervised, structured programmes of farming-related activities for a wide range of people, including those with learning disabilities, people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), those with a drug history, people on probation, young people at risk and older people, as well as those suffering from the effects of work-related stress or ill-health or mental health issues.
All care farms offer some elements of farming (involving crops, horticulture, livestock husbandry, use of machinery or woodland management etc.); but there is much variety.
A care farm is defined as: ‘A care farm utilises the whole or part of a farm to provide health, social or educational care services for one or a range of vulnerable groups of people, providing a supervised, structured programme of farming-related activities, rather than occasional one-off visits’;
And an occasional care farm as: ‘farms or nature reserves providing care farm services on an occasional basis’.
Care farms in England cater for a wide range of vulnerable groups, but the majority of farms provide services for people with learning difficulties (93%), autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (84%), mental ill-health (75%) and young people at risk (64%). Most care farms in England are providing care farming services for at least five or more different participant groups.
The majority of care farms (90%) reported that they provide social care outcomes for their clients, followed by educational (83%) and health care (80%) outcomes, with most care farms (66%) delivering all three types of outcome.
Most care farms (82%) provide sessions lasting a full day, approximately half also provide sessions lasting half a day and a third provide a mixture of both. The average care farm provides 5 sessions a week, suggesting that most care farms are offering a day session, five days a week.
The average number of clients at each care farm per week is 34, although it ranges from 1 to a maximum of 300. Most clients (90%) attend care farms between 1 and 3 times a week. On average care farm programmes last for 30 weeks. Care farmers in this survey stressed that the length of time a client attends a care farm is designed to meet the needs of the client.
Costs for attending a care farm vary depending on the client’s needs and types of services provided, but the mean cost per session for an unsupported client is £48 and for an accompanied client is £47 per session. The majority of care farms include group supervision, drinks and snacks, personal protective equipment and structured activities in the charge and a small proportion of care farms also include meals, qualifications and transport.
The majority of care farms (76%) are not currently running at full capacity. The current operating capacity of care farms varies but the mean operating capacity is 58%.
91% of care farms said that they would be able to offer more sessions if they had additional resources, i.e. financial resources, extra staff and additional land or buildings.
Funding was identified as the most significant challenge facing care farmers, in addition to securing contracts and recognition of the value of care farms and care farming services.
Care Farming UK in partnership with the Department of Health, Public Health England, DEFRA, Natural England, the Department of Education and the Ministry of Justice need to develop an integrated, strategic approach to care farming to help drive up the scale and quality of service provision and better targeting those users with the greatest need.
Networks of care farm practitioners need to be strengthened where they exist, and established where they don’t.
Whilst there are many different commissioning organisations that currently refer clients to care farms in England, there are likely to be others who are unaware of the potential of care farming.
There is an urgent need to work with health and social care, education and probation commissioning agencies to raise their awareness of care farming services.
Referral to care farms should be incorporated into health and social care referral systems. o With the introduction of personal health budgets there is an urgent need for greater support for individuals in receipt of direct payments to better understand the benefits of and secure access to green care treatments.
There is a need for better quality evaluation to provide information and evidence on care farming service performance in improving health and social outcomes for clients.
Future studies should incorporate standardised validated measures of client outcomes (such as wellbeing, quality of life, self-efficacy, general health etc) to highlight effectiveness and to allow comparison of care farming with other options.
Closer contact with other countries where the care farming sector is more established, would be helpful.
Source: From Natural England Commissioned Report NECR155, “Care farming: Defining the ‘offer’ in England”