Key learnings

1. Seek out experience: The success of CHC is in large part due to the contribution of homecare co-operatives who shared their experiences in establishing and operating a successful business. Don’t be afraid to bring in experts to provide specialist support such as legal, accounting and business management. This will help to ensure your business is well supported and has opportunities to succeed.

2. Don’t rely on public funding: Government procurement processes tend to favour established providers that have a track record of success and can demonstrate financial sustainability.  This means it can be very difficult for a new small organisation to meet funding criteria, even with charity status. Valuable time can be wasted applying and waiting for government funding. Focusing on accessing funding from co-operative banks and members may be an easier approach.

3. Build trust with your members: It is important to remember that the level of autonomy, individual responsibility and involvement in decision making for worker members in an employee owned co-operative is a vastly different way of operating compared to what many workers have experienced previously in the health and homecare sector. As such, it is important to take the time to build trust with potential new members and provide training on what it means to be part of an employee owned co-operative, prior to them joining. This will ensure new members are aligned with the purpose of the co-operative and the level of involvement expected in operating the co-operative.

4. Use Cloud technology: Make the most of Cloud technology to help reduce business overheads and manage the key functions of the business such as finances, payroll, resourcing, rosters and client management plans and records. These technologies will enable small operators such as employee owned co-operatives to operate more efficiently and effectively in meeting client and worker needs as well as remaining viable in an increasingly competitive marketplace.