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Success Stories

Strength in Members: Cooperative Home Care Resiliency in a Time of Crisis

USDA Cooperative Services Branch
Health Care
Rural Development
Cooperative developers and members of home care cooperatives gather at the National Home Care Cooperative Conference. Group of smiling people standing in a large open room.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, home care cooperatives were a beacon of hope for overburdened health care workers and the industry that faced its breaking point. Many workers who wanted a stake in the day-to-day operations turned to the cooperative business model, which allows workers to democratically own and control operations.

Home care cooperatives can create more resilient workforces by prioritizing improved working conditions, quality care, and higher wages. Organizations and partners like the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) are committed to helping more rural communities start and sustain home health care cooperatives. 

In 2021, CDF received a Rural Cooperative Development Grant and a Socially Disadvantaged Group Grant from USDA Rural Development (RD) which helped them support health care cooperatives with technical assistance, trainings, and outreach. A part of that effort included a Home Care Cooperative Benchmarking survey in 2021, conducted by the ICA Group. This survey demonstrated that home care cooperative member-owners are dedicated to the success and sustainability of their cooperatives.

“The Annual Home Care Cooperative Benchmarking Study has been an invaluable asset in both raising awareness about the home care cooperative model and identifying persistent gaps and needs in the sector. With the information we have gathered over the years and the trend analysis that is now possible, we are able to target assistance and develop tailored resources and supports that address those needs,” said Katrina Kazda, Director of Home Care at the ICA Group.

The survey revealed that home care cooperatives outperformed the industry with a 41% turnover rate compared to the industry’s standard of 65%. Additionally, in 2020, home care cooperatives raised wages by an average of $2.72 per hour compared to the $0.45 of their non-cooperative industry peers in the same states.

“At a time when this country faces a crisis in caregiving, cooperatives once again show that they can make a difference,” said CDF Executive Director Mary Griffin. “We just need more people to know about it.” 

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