There are two significant opportunities that are possible in this time when most people have developed a sense that the old normal is not about to return, and we need to be willing to make major changes to how our society and economy work. The first opportunity is to ask ourselves what kinds of organizational structures would respond better to meeting human need and enhance our ability to engage people to build a better more caring society. If we reflect on the lessons above, what type of organization would be most appropriate and likely to perform better? The for profit business model is simply not appropriate for meeting our need for elder care. The second opportunity is to ensure the ability of governments to act in the interest of citizens rather than for corporate interests.
So what co-operative structure might make a strong contribution to much better elder care? In Quebec, and much more so in Northern Italy and the Basque Country of Spain, there are solidarity co-operatives. They have different classes or types of members. A retail co-operative might have consumer members and worker members. A co-operative daycare would have parent members, worker members and perhaps a community member. An educational co-operative membership can include students, parents and teachers. The idea is to have membership open to people for whom the co-operative was important and for all the members to share common goals. As in every co-operative, each member would have one vote. Each class of members would elect a portion of the board of directors. All those for whom the co-operative was important would have a say in governance.
For eldercare homes one class of members would be the elder residents themselves, healthcare worker members and family members where the family had a loved one who was a resident. Each “class of member” would elect the members of the board of directors. The eldercare workers might elect four board members, residents three, family members two. Those nine might choose a director from the community or area served by the facility. This structure would ensure that the policies and operations of the home were based on decisions made with input for whom the home was of major importance.