Collaboration Brings Homecare Cooperative Academy to Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (Press Release) – The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is collaborating with the Olympia, Washington-based Northwest Cooperative Development Center to create an online academy that guides rural communities through the creation of home care cooperatives in their communities. The six-session academy begins May 4 and runs weekly until June 8. The sessions will be available for free on Zoom.

“The reason we’re partnered with the Northwest Cooperative Development Center,” said Cindy Houlden, NCDC’s cooperative development specialist who runs the academy, “is that they’ve formed five home care cooperatives. The oldest was founded in 2009. The newest in 2021.”

The academy will be the first of its kind in Nebraska. Co-op law varies from state to state. Therefore, while NWCDC will provide the know-how, legal issues, licensing requirements, caregiver rules, logistical guidance, and other details, the sessions will cover all Nebraska regulations.

“Unlike grocery co-ops, where community members come together to form the store, this co-op is made up of employees,” Houlden said. “It’s democratic property. They set salaries, benefits and policies. They determine the management of the company. And more specifically with a home care cooperative, they decide on the quality of care, how the care is delivered, the type of clientele they want to serve, the type of care they want to give, the how they want to be reimbursed, their rates, everything is determined by the employees. »

There’s a lot to consider when starting a home care co-op, Houlden said, but the academy will cover all the bureaucracy and how to manage it successfully.

The percentage of US citizens aged 90 and over has doubled since 1980. With the number of seniors expected to reach 73 million by 2030 (outnumbering children under five for the first time in history) , home care co-ops are increasingly becoming a viable career. option and a necessary part of rural communities.

The NCDC has worked with co-operative grocery stores in communities for years, but Houlden said the idea for a worker-at-home co-op came to them by accident. A woman who once worked for a home care co-op in Washington moved to Lincoln and contacted Houlden’s office, asking if they had any information on similar businesses in Nebraska. When the answer was no, the woman put Houlden in touch with Deborah Craig, Cooperative Development Specialist at NWCDC.

“We started conversations last summer about, ‘How do we bring this model into Nebraska? What are we doing? How can we make this happen? “Houlden said. Long story short, first contact moved to Maryland, however, we continued conversations with [Craig]applied for a grant for socially disadvantaged populations through the USDA, got the grant, and now we’re creating this academy. »

The topics and objectives of each of the six academy sessions are outlined below:

Session 1, May 4: Making Decisions—Democracy in the Workplace

Goals: Participants examine and practice different decision-making models, participants understand the roles of the board/manager/members in the governance of the cooperative.

Session 2, May 11: Laying the Foundation—Business Foundations

Goals: Participants create a basic business plan, identify the skills and experience needed to run the business, and take stock of the group’s skills.

Session 3, May 18: Show Me the Money—Understanding Your Co-op’s Finances

Goals: Participants learn to read financial statements, understand basic financial terms and systems used, and understand how financial decisions are made in their co-op.

Session 4, May 25: Tell your story—Promote your co-op

Goals: Participants will develop a one-page marketing plan and learn how to market their co-op and train other co-op members to do the same.

Session 5, June 1: People Management—Inspiration and Accountability

Goals: Participants will identify and understand the many accountability systems that will operate in the co-op, practice “difficult conversations” and develop active listening skills.

Session 6, June 8: Member Engagement — Bringing Democracy to Life in the Workplace

Goals: Participants will understand the importance of making democracy a priority in their co-op and will have a plan for implementing various systems of democratic participation. This session will facilitate discussion about creating systems for meaningful member participation and power sharing within the co-op. The presentation will include testimonials from Washington home care co-op members about how their co-op brings workplace democracy to life.

You can register for the academy at After registration, an automated email will be sent to you with information about joining sessions via Zoom.

The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center is hosted by the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. NCDC programs adhere to the non-discrimination policies of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the United States Department of Agriculture. The NCDC is funded in part by the USDA RCDG grant program and a USDA SDGG grant program. For more information, visit //

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Virginia S. Braud