On September 5th, at 9:00 pm, the local PBS affiliate (KCTS) will air a documentary about caregivers and the people who need home care on the show America Reframed. The film promises to discuss the many challenges faced by both the providers and receivers of home care in the US.
The film’s website states:
“Care pulls back the curtain on the poignant and largely hidden world of in-home elder care. Beautifully shot and deeply moving, the film reveals the deep bonds that form between paid care workers and elders while exposing the cracks in the U.S. care system. ”
We realize that 9:00 pm may be a bit late for people and we hope to organize a community screening as part of our efforts to launch our cooperative.
Welcome to the home of Captial Homecare Cooperative!
In 2014, Olympian resident Jerry Barney became aware of inequities in the home care industry. Jerry hired caregivers to assist his wife and, due to a temporary injury, found himself in need of home care services as well. When he received the bill, he realized that while the agency charges him significantly (almost double) for the caregiver providing services for two people in the same household, the caregiver only received a couple of dollars more in wages. He had heard about worker-owned agencies such as Cooperative Care in Wautoma, Wisconsin, and Circle of Life in Bellingham, Washington. He thought it might be time for Olympia’s caregivers to have their own co-op too.
Jerry discovered Northwest Cooperative Development Center (NWCDC) in Olympia and worked with them through his new organizations Homecare Cooperative Foundation (HCF). They brought in Care Connection, a home care registry with Senior Services. These three groups and individual caregivers began holding regular meetings about how worker-ownership and partnership with the registry might create a better environment for consumers and providers of home care services.
By the fall of 2015, the three organizations held a couple of information sessions for Thurston County’s caregivers. Over 30 caregivers expressed initial interest and a steering committee was formed to begin the work of creating a new cooperative. There was some turnover of the steering committee due to a number of different issues. One of the most important commodities is time. By spring 2016, the committee had drafted articles of incorporation and bylaws. In August 2016, Capital Homecare Cooperative incorporated with the State of Washington.
After incorporating, the steering committee became the interim board of directors. There were some more staffing changes as people joined and others took a break. Creating a cooperative is more of a marathon than a sprint and sometimes it is a relay race!
Today, the board consists of four caregivers and others who assist with events. The board is working on fundraising, marketing, and the licensing process. The goal is to become licensed and be able to begin operations in the fall of 2017. There is still a lot of work to do before the cooperative becomes a reality but the end is in sight.