The Cooperative Solution to the Caregiver Crisis: A National Strategy Analysis
Elevating the home care cooperative sector with formalized national collaboration
“An unprecedented increase in the nation’s elderly population, paired with a cultural shift towards aging in place, is driving historical growth in the home care sector. By 2030, seniors aged 65 and over, will represent 20% of the U.S population (an estimated 71.5 million people) and nearly nine in ten seniors hope to age at home. Adjusting for turnover, millions of new home care workers will need to be hired and trained over the next few decades to meet demand. For many years, experts in the field, led by PHI, the nation’s leading authority on the direct-care workforce, have warned of a coming caregiver gap.
Without a material improvement in job quality, there will be an insufficient number of workers to provide home care services. For agencies across the country, including home care cooperatives, especially those that focus on Medicaid eligible clients, the caregiver gap has arrived. If steps are not taken to address this challenge, the many home care cooperatives that are at the leading edge of improving job quality and care could face dire circumstances.
The reality for home care workers is that the work is low paid, benefits are limited, hours are inconsistent, training is insufficient, career ladders are nearly non-existent, and the job is emotionally and physically taxing. With few incentives and little support, it is no surprise that even firms that put job quality at the center of their decision-making face difficulty in recruiting workers. With an improving overall economy, turnover rates within the home care industry remain incredibly high (60% nationally) and agencies small and large struggle to recruit from a limited pool of workers, which continues to decline as today’s caregivers age out of the workforce.
To stabilize the home care industry and bring new workers into the field to meet growing demand, home care jobs need to be improved and the agencies that employ these workers must be stabilized.
Home care cooperatives, which are owned and governed by caregivers, are uniquely positioned to accomplish this. With the right kind of supports, worker-owned cooperatives have improved working conditions and outcomes, increased recruitment and retention, and created business stability and sustainability. To expand their reach and improve job quality across the sector however, will require greater investment and support. ”
This report is part of the Cooperative Development Foundation’s Socially Disadvantaged Group Grant. The ICA Group and Margaret Lund wrote this report to assist CDF in its efforts to bring home care worker cooperatives to scale across the country and to support the scale and sustainability efforts of the numerous home care cooperatives already operating. For more information visit: www.cdf.coop or icagroup.org
Read the full report, The Cooperative Solution to the Caregiver Crisis: A National Strategy Analysis, from the Cooperative Development Fund.