Cooperative Home Care vs Franchise in Home Care: Weighing Your Options
Are you a caregiver in Philadelphia, PA looking for a better employer? Or are you one of the thousands of Americans looking to pursue a rewarding career as a personal care or home health aide for the first time, but you are unsure about the right kind of company to work for?
Did you know that you can work and even become a part-owner of a caregiver-owned home care agency that places caregiver needs and voices at the center of company decisions and shares profits with caregivers?
In either case, you’ll want to understand the different choices available to you and weigh the pros and cons of each. From national chains and franchised home care agencies to independent agencies and worker-owned cooperatives, today you have more choices, and more employee power, than ever before. Here we explain the difference between a franchise and a worker-owned home care agency.
What is Franchised Home Care?
A Growing Industry
Demand for home care is at an all-time high, and home care agencies are growing at a rapid rate to meet this demand. In particular, franchise home care has really taken off. Franchises are an easy solution for new entrepreneurs wanting to start a home care business. They offer individuals who buy into and operate a franchise location (franchisees) access to everything they need to get started – a brand, website, and marketing support, operating systems and procedures, support with licensing, and more.
The problem with this approach is that franchisees also pay a hefty price for this access, usually tens of thousands of dollars, and must pay annual fees to remain a franchisee.
Franchised Home Care Pros and Cons in Philadelphia, PA
So, what are some of the pros and cons of working at a franchised home care agency?
- Because home care franchises are growing so rapidly, jobs are readily available in many areas, including here in Philadelphia, PA.
- Because franchises are typically linked by a franchise hub, they can sometimes offer access to more advanced benefits and training platforms.
- Most franchises primarily serve out-of-pocket clients, sometimes meaning longer shifts.
- Even though they may be part of a national company, local franchise locations are run by local owners and managers, meaning you can still have a personalized experience with the right team.
- Because franchise owners must pay high start-up and ongoing fees to the franchise, while also making a profit, there is less money to invest in caregiver wages and benefits.
- Given the structure of the company, caregivers rarely have a say in company policies and procedures and can often feel like just another cog in the wheel.
- Franchises have notoriously high turnover rates, making it difficult for caregivers to establish meaningful connections with other caregivers.
- Franchises rarely offer opportunities beyond caregiving employment. Rarely do franchises hire from within, offer career advancement opportunities, or offer caregivers opportunities to put their other skills and interests to work.
Here in Philadelphia, one of the challenges that caregivers face working for franchise home care agencies is a lack of training and on the job support.
What is Cooperative Home Care?
Now that you understand franchised home care, what are some alternatives? If you are a caregiver that wants more from your job than just a paycheck, a worker-owned cooperative may be the right choice for you.
Home care cooperatives are caregiver-owned and are structured to value, support, reward, and give decision-making power to the people that do the hard work – caregivers. Caregivers are essential, front-line workers and deserve a seat at the table. By redistributing ownership and decision-making power, cooperative home care companies create that seat, and begin to shift the current imbalance of influence and rewards.
Cooperatives in the United States aren’t new, and they certainly aren’t new in the home care industry. One of the largest worker-owned companies is a home care cooperative, and Home Care Associates is actually one of the oldest home care cooperatives in the country!
Q: Is cooperative home care available in Philadelphia, PA?
A: Yes! Of course! Cooperative home care agencies are currently serving these neighborhoods:
- Philadelphia County
- Chester County
- Delaware County
Cooperative Home Care Pros and Cons
So, what are some of the pros and cons of working at a cooperative home care agency?
- Cooperatives proactively build community between workers through social events, peer mentorship and support, the board and committees, and annual cooperative meetings.
- Cooperatives offer the opportunity for co-ownership, which means you have a meaningful voice in company policy and procedures and get a share of profits in profitable years.
- Cooperatives offer unique leadership and skill-building opportunities including the opportunity to be on the board of directors, be a part of a committee, or to work in the office. Most cooperatives hire from within and help caregivers build skills for office or operations jobs. Here at HCA over 80% of our office staff are former caregivers!
- Cooperatives offer the opportunity for caregivers to connect with people working at cooperatives across the country.
- Because cooperatives were established to provide the best quality employment possible for caregivers, they typically pay home care workers higher wages than non-cooperative agencies, provide paid training, paid time off and sick time, and offer greater work flexibility. Cooperatives continuously work to add more benefits and new opportunities for caregivers to succeed on the job and advance in their careers.
- Cooperatives require more involvement from caregiver-owners than just working shifts. Attending the annual meeting, voting on board members, or even serving on a board or committee are all important aspects of being an owner. For the right person, this is exciting and rewarding, but for others it's the wrong fit.
- Democracy is not always easy and sometimes caregiver-owners don’t see eye to eye. While home care cooperatives hire administrators, managers, and supervisors to run the daily operations of the business, just like any other home care business, co-owners play an important role in overseeing the big picture and ensuring the ongoing success of the business. This means caregivers who choose to become co-owners must take the time to learn about home care cooperative business, operations, financials, and governance and engage in relevant company decisions.
The Right Choice for You
In the end, it is up to you to make the decision that is best for you and your goals as a caregiver. For some, working at a known franchise provides comfort and meets their day-to-day needs. For others, working at and eventually becoming a co-owner of a cooperatively owned home care agency might be the next step they have been waiting for.
We hope this has given you some perspective on the opportunities available to you as a compassionate caregiver. We value every caregiver and wish you the best in taking the next step in your career journey.