Cooperative Care

A Return to Our Heritage: Job Quality and a Strong Community

The south Wood County area of Wisconsin has a strong heritage of successful cooperatives. By looking an hour south, we find an innovative model that applies tested cooperative principals to improve economic opportunity for a key local workforce—home health workers.

Support is needed to help seniors age-in-place at home, causing demand for home health workers to rise. Yet these workers generally face low wages, volatile and low work hours, and few job benefits. Poor job quality generates poor care and high turnover (40-60% national annual turnover).

Founded in Waushara County in 2001, Cooperative Care is a worker-owned cooperative offering “high quality home-based care to the elderly and disabled while providing fair wages and benefits to the people caring for them.” By improving job quality, Cooperative Care has developed a consistently strong supply of home care providers.

Cooperative Care reduces administrative costs and focuses the savings on improved pay and benefits. Home health workers as co-op members get higher base pay, paid vacation and holidays, worker’s compensation, mileage reimbursement, and paid training. As a result, annual worker turnover has decreased by more than half.

The co-op employs over 60 workers and serves some 160 clients. These clients, senior citizens across several rural Wisconsin communities, benefit from higher quality and continuity of care, along with increased professionalism from better-compensated home care providers.

Cooperative Care applied Wisconsin’s strong cooperative history –  from dairy to produce to utilities –  for similar results in the home health industry. Workers receive better pay, benefits, and training. Seniors get better care. The community is strengthened. Here in SWCA, we can build upon our own tradition of cooperative success to leverage resources for a stronger quality of jobs and quality of life.

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