The Co-operative Life

With the demand for non-residential home care support on the rise with an ageing population and the desire by many to live independently and well, combined with poor morale and work conditions, home care support workers took matters into their own hands and formed The Co-operative Life (formerly Co-operative Home Care) to offer a new way of providing individualised, affordable and quality care in a supportive and empowering work environment. The employee owned co-operative began with five members in 2013 and by the end of 2017 expects to have 50 employee-members. 

The Co-operative Life (TCL) is an employee owned co-operative based in Sydney which provides care for the elderly and disabled people. Opening in 2013 with five employee members, by the end of 2017 the co-operative expects to have 50 employee members.

By 2050, over 3.5 million Australians are expected to use aged care services each year with around 80 per cent of services delivered in the home. Recipients of home care increasingly want to remain independent and in control of how and where they live, to have choice in care providers and to remain connected to family and community. To address these needs, a new solution in home care provision is needed.

Despite high levels of job satisfaction, employee turnover rates in the home care workforce is high due to a combination of factors including low remuneration, poor working conditions and limited training. Witnessing this first hand, was Robyn Kaczmarek, an experienced home care professional who decided to explore the possibility of creating a co-operative approach to home care services.

TCL is an employee owned co-operative meaning the employees of the co-operative are also its owners, allowing employee members to have an opportunity for a greater control over their working environment. At TCL, employee members work in self-organising local teams.

The co-operative began operating in 2013 providing care for the elderly and disabled population of a metropolitan Sydney area. It has also made a significant investment into its owners/employees through continuous engagement, training and development of its employee members.

TCL has encountered a number of challenges since its inception including a lack of knowledge of employee owned co-operatives, accessing government funding, financial management and governance.

Looking into the future, TCL aims to grow organically; focusing on building an empowering and autonomous employee owned co-operative which delivers high quality care at an affordable price. Taking a conservative approach, the group are using annual profits to fund further expansion, as opposed to debt.

As a Public Service Mutual, TCL has made some key discoveries from their experience. They are broken into four areas including seeking out experience, funding, member trust and the use of Cloud technology.

Browse the TCL Case Study Bibliography.

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