This Week In Washington, Home Care Cooperatives

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time

Wisconsin is part of a nationwide effort to boost conditions for home care workers and senior citizens through a cooperative model. Two participants in the program share the details. We also discuss the top national news of the week, including ongoing relief efforts for those displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

Featured in this Show

  • This Week In Washington – September 6, 2017

    In our weekly recap of national politics, we look at reactions to the White House announcement on DACA, hurricane relief efforts, and other top national news.

  • Cooperative Program Aims To Boost Quality Of Home Care

    Wisconsin is part of a nationwide effort to boost working conditions for home care workers under a cooperative model–and provide better and more consistent care for seniors and others. Two participants in the program join the show.

  • America Faces A Health Care Shortage. Could Cooperatives Be The Fix?

    As the nation’s baby boomers age, America is facing a shortage of home health aides and nursing assistants.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation is expected to need over 1 million additional caregivers in 2024.

    But with notoriously low wages and a high turnover rate, some worry how to attract and retain workers to keep up with the growing demand.

    Purveyors of one model believe they have the solution: the co-op.

    It’s the same model used at your neighborhood grocery co-op: the organization is owned and managed by those who use it. Because it gives health care workers a stake in the business, it has the potential for real staying power, says Anne Reynolds, executive director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives.

    “Because it puts workers in a position of making decisions for themselves, (cooperatives) are seen as one of the potential real answers to this kind of conundrum about providing good home care services,” Reynolds said.

    Tracy Dudzinski is the human resources coordinator for Cooperative Care, a home health care cooperative in Wautoma, Wisconsin.

    She says home care workers are there to help the aging or disabled live comfortably in their homes. Because of that, they wear many hats — helping with bathing, shopping, cleaning, laundry, meal preparation, medication reminders and transportation to medical appointments.

    The Wautoma business faces some of the same struggles as others in the industry, Dudzinski said, and the same immense growth — they’ve had to turn away potential clients due to a lack of workers. Currently, the business employs 40 caregivers for approximately 200 clients.

    But Dudzinski said Cooperative Care has a lower employee turnover rate and pays more than the industry standard. The cooperative model makes that possible, she said. In turn, employees are more committed.

    “The people doing the work have a say in how the business is run. We have a core group of dedicated owners who will do what needs to be done,” she said. “…They can serve on a committee, they can run for the board of directors, and have a say in how the business is run and the direction we’re gonna go.”

    Reynolds said some are still skeptical of the cooperative business model for health care, but interest is growing.

    “We’ve seen the success in many many industries,” said Reynolds. “And it absolutely can happen, but it does need support and education just as with any kind of business or organization where people are trying to do something that is challenging, and home care is a challenging industry.”

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Rob Ferrett Producer
  • Harry Enten Guest
  • Anne Reynolds Guest
  • Tracy Dudzinski Guest