Organizational Culture Of the PSW Cooperative
A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
Common types of co-ops include credit unions, housing co-ops, farmers’ co-ops, food co-ops, renewable energy co-ops and childcare co-ops. Worldwide, there are 3 million co-operatives with over 1 billion members and clients. One in six people have a co-op membership, and there are over 12 million employees working in the world’s co-ops.
In Canada, about four in ten Canadians are members of over 9,000 co-operatives. These co-op enterprises have over $500 billion in assets with over $86 billion in annual revenue, and employ over 180,000 people. Eight out of ten Canadians say they would rather buy their products at a co-op than a private business.
Co-operatives follow the International Co-operative Principles and Values and are leaders in measuring their triple bottom line: economic, social and ecological.
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Member Economic Participation
4. Autonomy and Independence
5. Education, Training and Information
6. Cooperation Among Co-operatives
7. Concern for Community
These principles and values clearly indicate the ethics and solidarity that members of a worker co-op must follow and that will guide our co-op’s actions both with its members and customers, and with the broader community. Following these principles and values provides the foundation for building the commitment from, and relationship between co-op members that is required for the enterprise’s long-term success.
The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice. Members of worker co-operatives should be aware of the ideals that set them apart from conventional capitalist businesses.
How our co-op will put these principles and values into practice
Our co-op will follow these principles by ensuring not only diversity and equality in our co-op, but true inclusivity. Diversity is understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. Inclusivity is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.
Inclusivity aims to ensure that each person in the space feels welcomed and valued within the group. It’s not enough to just have certain demographics being represented in our co-op, we need to ensure that our co-op culture reflects all our members in a meaningful way. We need to ensure that we are not taking part in performative diversity, equality and inclusion under the mask of tokenism.
The members and our clients should be able to clearly see and feel that our co-op values equality, diversity and inclusivity, so we need to be transparent about our belief that our members and clients will be treated in an equal and inclusive manner.
As a professional service provider, our worker co-op is secular, and our members are focused on providing the highest quality home care services. We respect each other’s and our client’s individual beliefs and ideologies, and we strive to establish a trusting, caring and professional working relationship.
Our co-op offers a welcoming, safe space for members to have an equal voice when creating policies and making decisions. We agree to take this responsibility seriously and will make certain that those policies are a true reflection of the co-op’s values and principles. We will create a way to tangibly measure how our co-op is doing when it comes to upholding those principles and values, so we will know when we need to grow and do better. These principles and values only become real when they are implemented in our day-to-day operations.
In order for our co-op to be successful, the members must have many skills. Our co-op will work to guarantee that the members, directors and managers get the training they need to fully contribute to the growth and success of the co-op. We will do this by offering and encouraging professional development workshops and courses, and make every effort to keep all members current and up to date on their skillsets.
Our co-op will work towards the sustainable development of our communities through policies supported by the membership. We will engage, educate and co-operate with others so we can develop long lasting and sustainable working relationships within our community. We will agree to promote the benefits of the worker co-op model within our communities, and continue to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with other organizations that share the same vision.
Dignity and Compassion
Our co-op model has the unique opportunity to show the broader community that there is a more dignified and compassionate way to care for our most vulnerable citizens, and an economically feasible way to create meaningful employment for those who care for them. The relationship that can naturally develop between a client and a caregiver is to be nourished. Working under a not-for-profit co-operative model allows us the freedom to put people first. Our clients will get the highest standard of care because our membership and community as a whole will agree on what that standard of care looks like. And, because workers are owners, they have a real stake in the success of their business.
Quality of Care
We know what works, and we will follow best practices when making policies that reflect the quality of care for our clients. Our services will not be task orientated and time specific. Our services will focus solely on our clients’ needs. We will match our clients with a compatible PSW, who is educated on the needs of that specific client, whether it be advanced dementia, palliative care, or a brain injury. Our PSWs will be prepared, qualified and ready to focus on their clients. Worker ownership helps ensure quality of service, because the success or failure of this business is the direct reflection of our workers, and each member will benefit equally in the success.
We want our co-op to grow organically, nothing forced. We want to make sure that we are always maintaining excellence first before we expand, and we can do this successfully because profit is not our main motivator. Being a not-for-profit allows us to be discerning when recruiting members. Our PSWs will be hired because of exceptional qualifications and the shared principles and values of this co-op.
Traditional, for-profit long-term care has been neglected by successive governments for decades, and the results have been largely unsuccessful and entirely unacceptable. To cut costs and maximize shareholder profit, workers’ wages and client care both suffer.
As a not-for-profit worker co-operative, we are committed to providing high quality care to our clients by highly skilled and trained psws, and democratic member control within a framework that fairly compensates its members for their labour.
By making our workers a priority, we can assure they will, in turn, confidently and compassionately care for our most vulnerable community members, and give them the high quality care they deserve. This is a win for everyone!