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How self-managing teams are changing home care

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What are self-managing teams and how are they being used to change our approach to care? We take a look at the history, application, and benefits of this innovative way of working.

What is a self-managing team? 

Self–management is a way of working without conventional managerial hierarchies. A self–managed team is a small group of individuals who take responsibility for their work and are accountable for monitoring their performance, making their own decisions, and managing their own time. 

In a care setting, this could include organising your team rota or making your own decisions about how to best support the people you care for. This non–hierarchical structure when applied to social care ensures that decisions can be made by those closest to the person receiving support. It allows carers working directly with the people they support and their families to explore options for achieving their outcomes and deliver effective, personalised care. 


BelleVie’s Organisational Structure flips the traditional, hierarchical “triangle” upside down

History of self-managed teams

Although it might sound innovative, self–managing teams aren’t a new idea! The concept can be traced back to the late 1940s when it was implemented to improve productivity in post-war Britain.

Self-managing agile teams are widely used in IT, growing hugely since the “agile manifesto” was first launched in 2001.

Buurtzorg – a Netherlands-based company founded in 2006 – successfully introduced a model of self-managing teams to nursing, and more recently to social care. They developed a holistic, person-centred approach to care by using small self–managing teams of nurses to deliver personalised home care at a neighbourhood level. Removing bureaucratic constraints gave nurses more freedom and time with the people they cared for. Since employing this method, Buurtzorg’s client satisfaction scores have been consistently higher than the national average in the Netherlands.

Buurtzorg is one of the case studies described in Frederic Laloux’s book “Reinventing Organisations“. Laloux describes the evolution of organisations, and how a radical shift to more human ways of working is resulting in more productive organisation models.

Self–managing teams at BelleVie

BelleVie’s founders were inspired by how Buurtzorg had revolutionised community nursing, and practical experience of self-managing teams from agile, and are passionate about creating great jobs and more human ways of working. We have drawn from others experiences, adopting ideas from a generous community of people reinventing the future of work, and co-designing our model with our amazing Wellbeing Support Workers.

There are a few qualities that help to define a Wellbeing Team:


Most importantly, BelleVie’s Wellbeing Support Teams are self-managed. Members of the team share tasks that would usually be the responsibility of a traditional manager. Teams are supported by Coaches. Each team member also has a ‘buddy’ who helps them to make sure they are supported and doing their best work.

Values Led

Our style is one of strong leadership and coaching rather than management and hierarchy. Our decentralised model creates an environment where people are empowered and trusted, resulting in meaningful work. Our culture is driven by our values:

  1. We listen
  2. We are compassionate
  3. We encourage ambition and creativity
  4. We are true to ourselves
  5. We take pride in everything we do, measured by outcomes
  6. We keep our promises and own our learning

This values-based approach is used in the recruitment process. People are recruited based on personality traits rather than experience and skills.

Neighbourhood Based

Similar to Buurtzorg, our teams are usually neighbourhood based and made up of local people. This means that team members gain a deeper understanding of the community, people, places, and services in the area they work.

Relationship Centred and committed to wellbeing

A key aspect of our Teams is that they do more than just personal care. Our real work is building trusted relationships. We focuses on what matters to the person being supported so that they can truly thrive, not just survive.

How can self-managing teams help care?

It’s no secret that care is in crisis. The traditional ‘time and task’ model of delivering care prioritises efficiency over effectiveness and can end up disregarding the person at the centre of the care. Tasks are standardised, assigned a certain amount of time, and rushed. This ‘tick box’ approach prevents relationships from being established and lacks the human connection needed to help someone thrive. 

Unlike the time and task model, self–managed teams help to build a stronger relationship between the carer and the person being cared for. Care workers are trusted and given more control over their own time meaning they can prioritise building a relationship and treating the person they care for as an individual. This relationship–centered approach affords those receiving care more dignity, compassion, and respect. Relationship–focused care also helps to better understand someone’s preferences and values, which can help carers learn how to help someone thrive and improve their wellbeing effectively. 

What are the benefits of working in a self-managing team?

Self–managing teams don’t just improve the wellbeing of the people being cared for, they also help members of care teams to thrive and flourish in their role. Being part of a self–managed team can result in:

More opportunities for personal growth

Working in a self–managed team is an excellent way to develop new skills. You are given more responsibility and less guidance, meaning that you must find solutions to problems you may not have faced before and build your skillset as a result. It also requires you to share ideas and learn from your peers which contributes to personal and professional growth.  

Increased motivation

Being part of a team with a shared goal is a great way to improve motivation. Having a shared vision and working closely with your peers helps to build strong relationships and contributes to a sense of belonging. 

Increased job satisfaction

Focusing on deadlines and ticking off boxes is not the reason people choose to work in care. Self-managed teams give you the freedom to focus on the person you care for and build a real relationship.

Increased feelings of being valued

Working in small, self–managed teams ensures that everyone is seen and heard, with no sense of hierarchy. Being afforded a level of trust and autonomy also helps to make people feel valued.

Reduced feelings of isolation

Home carers may often feel lonely due to time between visits and lack of engagement from management. Working in a self–managed team encourages discussion, collaboration, and requires regular meetings, enhancing a sense of community and belonging.


“Being part of a small self-managing team has allowed me to connect with my colleagues like family. We have weekly team meetings so we are able to make decisions to ensure we are offering the best support to people, share ideas, acknowledge things that have worked/haven’t worked well and support each other. I love to make a difference to our elderly community and spread happiness throughout the community”

Gemma – Practice Coach at BelleVie


The future

Undoubtedly, the future of self–managing teams in care is exciting. Here at BelleVie, our vision is a world where people who give and receive care and support are valued and thrive together. Our amazing Wellbeing Support Workers are able to flourish in small self-managing teams and deliver person–centred care that truly makes a difference.



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