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SA Urged to Embrace Co-Op Model to Fix Aged Care and Disability Worker Shortages


5 December 2018 at 8:37 am
Luke Michael
South Australia should embrace the cooperative business model to fix problems in the state’s care sector, according to a leading UK social entrepreneur.  


Luke Michael | 5 December 2018 at 8:37 am


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SA Urged to Embrace Co-Op Model to Fix Aged Care and Disability Worker Shortages
5 December 2018 at 8:37 am

South Australia should embrace the cooperative business model to fix problems in the state’s care sector, according to a leading UK social entrepreneur.  

Dr Guy Turnbull, EY’s UK Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017, has been in Australia sharing his expertise in applying the cooperative model to the social care workforce.

A former UK public service co-operative development worker, Turnbull founded Care and Share Associates Limited (CASA) in 2004, which is a worker-owned carer cooperative that delivers 24,000 hours of support per week.

Turnbull is behind an Adelaide trial linking local GPs and allied health providers with a cooperative of home care staff.

This is designed to reduce the number of people being admitted to hospital due to a lack of adequate community care.

“It’s all about delivering higher-quality care by employees that are better engaged in what they do because they are working as part of a co-operative,” Turnbull said.

“There is no greater way to engage an employee and deliver superior outcomes than to make them an owner of the organisation that they work for – this is why the employee ownership and cooperative business models are thriving.”

The disability and aged care sectors have recently suffered a carer workforce shortage.

A parliamentary committee recently noted there was a need for need for an additional 70,000 disability workers by 2020 with the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

In aged care, almost one million aged care workers will be needed to provide care to six million people by 2050, according to a recent report by the Victorian Council of Social Service.

“That’s a three-fold increase up from 336,000 people currently working in the aged care sector,” Turnbull said.

“Now’s the time to take action and think differently about the way care is delivered.

“When people have a stake in an organisation like a cooperative, they deliver a much better quality of care. This makes the business more successful and means that profits can be reinvested in the staff development and better care.”  

Don Dunstan Foundation executive director David Pearson said Australia needed to be a lot more concerned about workforce issues in the care sector.

“Not being on the front foot and addressing these challenges leads to more royal commissions into the quality of care,” Pearson said.  

“This industry is also a crucial part of the local economy and in South Australia’s case, is currently the biggest driver of job creation.”    

 Turnbull told Pro Bono News the pilot will be undertaken with one of Australia’s first worker-owned co-ops, The Co-operative Life.

Other key partners of the pilot include a group of pharmacists and allied health professionals, and a network of GPs led by Dr Andrew Kelly.

“We recently had a stakeholder meeting with the City of Charles Sturt who are very supportive of the initiative. And we’re currently putting our implementation plan together,” he said.

“South Australia faces a huge challenge with its disability and aged care workforce. Unless more innovative approaches to joining up services and joining up careers are looked at, it will be a real struggle to meet this increased demand.”

The pilot is expected to commence early next year.   


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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One comment

  • Avatar meg says:

    What a great idea for tackling what will be massive shortages in workers for the disability and age care sectors. I wonder if we also need to look at the flexibility of support workers – ie they could be performing a range of roles within an organisation with disability/aged care support being a part of that – so that people are learning a range of skills within an organisation – that offers opportunities for future promotion etc etc. Rather than advertise all the time for support workers – why not look within the organisation for people who want to multi-task – one day reception, one day project officer, one day disability / age care worker

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