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Co-op approach for aged care

A co-operative model could work well for rural and remote aged care providers, a former aged care CEO has told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Phil Schmaal spent 10 years as CEO of South Australian aged care provider Barossa Village from 2007, during which time it expanded its residential aged care and built a home care program and retirement village in Nuriootpa and surrounding towns to service the wider Barossa Valley.

In 2014, Mr Schmaal oversaw Barossa Village becoming a member of South Australia’s Innovation Hub Trial, which along with Mt Gambier provider Boandik Lodge, served as models for rural and remote innovation.

He is now chairman of the Barossa Community Co-operative Store, a retail co-operative formed in 1944 that has over 18,000 members, and also a member of the chairs’ forum of the national peak Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals.

“The co-operative model is somewhere between a not-for-profit and a commercial for-profit, where organisations remain independent yet come together to make something bigger and provide support and services back to the members,” Mr Schmaal told AAA.

“In the aged care context member organisations would retain the advantages of being autonomous and would remain independently owned by their local communities but would also further benefit from being part of a larger co-operative structure whereby the costs of services could be shared and absorbed across a larger base,” Mr Schmaal said.

ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow said many small aged care providers in regional and remote areas were facing significant challenges.

“They are the lifeblood of rural and regional communities but the reality is that many face an uncertain future as they deal with rapid change in the sector,” Ms Sparrow told AAA.

As the pace of change picks up many small providers were looking for new strategies to survive and thrive, she said.


Rural aged care urged to consider co-op approach (Australian Ageing Agenda)