CHC puts its success down to a number of factors:
1. Co-operative entrepreneurship: CHC would not be where it is today without the entrepreneurship of Robyn Kaczmarek and the steering committee to seek an alternative approach to homecare. Their commitment and dedication to invest time and financial resources was critical in researching, establishing and operating CHC.
2. Co-operative network: Support among co-operatives is one of the key Co-operative Principles. For CHC, the mentoring and information provided by Sunderland Homecare, Cooperative Home Care Associates and Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute enabled them to understand the benefits of an employee co-operative ones other legal structures, and how to establish and operate a co-operative in the homecare sector. This support and information was provided free of charge to CHC and was invaluable in establishing CHC, particularly given the limited initial funding available to pay external technical experts. The co-operative network continues to provide ongoing support as CHC evolves it business to continue to meet the needs of worker members and clients.
3. Technical professional support: The technical expertise of lawyers and accountants was vital to establishing CHC. They helped to draft the rules, choose the right legal structure and help register CHC as a co-operative and not-for-profit with charity status. It was important to work with professionals who had knowledge and experience of co-operatives so they were provided with the right information to support CHC in achieving its vision and mission.
4. Cloud technology: Access to affordable business software provided through Cloud technology has enabled CHC to organise worker-members, manage finances and reduce business overheads. Software such as AlignToday (for managing teams by tracking priorities and planning client care), MyTasks (managing rosters and payslips) and IntelligenceBank (managing governance and compliance) are available to small business for a modest monthly fee. They are user friendly, can be accessed from anywhere (office, home or client’s home) and help to improve accountability, transparency and connectedness, especially with managing CareCrews remotely. Previously such software would have been prohibitively expensive for small business to access.
Resources to support growth and development
The success of CHC is in part due to its ability to harness a range of resources both internal and external to the organisation.
Figure 4: The resources used by CHC to develop and grow
CHC has encountered a range of challenges since its inception: knowledge of employee owned co-operatives, accessing government funding, financial management and governance. Table 1 provides an overview of these challenges and how CHC is overcoming them.