- Home care both long-term and sporadic, from residential care to help for people in their own homes or facilities which provide practical care, e.g. assistance with home-making (meals, cleaning etc), personal care such as medications, bathing, transfers; and household management (finances, accessing legal support etc) in the client’s home or other location; From Careforce and Pictou Country, Nova Scotia to Care Connections in Mission, BC home care co-ops ensure a context that is satisfying to workers and clients.
Employment training and work access for people with barriers (physical, mental, cultural) to employment, with ongoing support if needed to sustain employment, enhance access to adequate nutrition, housing, health care and other support if needed. Y’s Owl Maclure, Ottawa, TeamWerks, Thunder Bay, HandiTeam, Richmond and COCO, Nanaimo enable people with barriers to employment to access and retain satisfying work. TeamWerks run 9 enterprises including GreenWerks where they grow and process food, raising their own standard of nutrition, providing food to the hospital and donating to the city food bank.
- In addition to providing primary physical and mental health services, co-ops that include health centres work hard to shift the focus to wellness education, community outreach, and integrative care, all to reduce suffering and costs. Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Victoria and NorWest in Winnipeg are remarkable organizations with huge volunteer contributions. They focus on patient/customer empowerment; integrative care either within the allopathic (conventional) medical modalities or in conjunction with complementary and alternative modalities which, depending on the location, can include chiropractic, homeopathic, reflexology, acupuncture practices among many others. Some heath co-ops include diagnostic laboratories and pharmacies. Co-ops work to improve the wellness of individuals and communities through wellness education, health promotion, prevention of accidents and illness, encouragement of social connections, the arts, food security and other avenues to wellness, both directly and in conjunction with community partners. In some provinces governments, recognizing that these co-ops work in areas of high need, provide salaries for some or all of the staff. In others, the co-ops combine fund-raising, small contracts, and billing the province based on the Ministry of Health billing code, a situation much less appealing to staff and much more time-intensive.
- Imagine not being able to make a doctors appointment or describe your symptoms, and face culturally unfamiliar procedures. Culturally and linguistically appropriate services, whether through assistance in accessing health professionals, language and cultural interpretation during appointments, support in responding to domestic or workplace violence are provided by Multicultural Health Brokers in Edmonton provides translation, accompaniment and navigation assistance in 22 languages and cultures. NorWest works with immigrant and First Nations communities. Regina works with several previously isolated refugee groups.
Ambulance, emergency and mobile services; and when you need mobile health care? In addition to being phenomenal community fund raisers, the North Shore Ambulance Co-op in rural Newfoundland has cut wait times from hours to minutes. Umbrella Multicultural Health takes health care to migrant farm workers in the Fraser Valley.
- Facilities and services such as shared office space and administrative support, for wellness, health and social services workers and organizations.
- In addition a number of co-ops have a health, wellness or social service activity that is part of a larger picture. For example Co-op Atlantic set up a fitness and wellness co-op for their head office employee in Moncton.
- In some, such as The Co-operators and Desjardins, the main activity is providing insurance for extended health services.
In Canada, major challenges in most provinces are that:
No co-op can require membership as a condition of providing services under the provincial medical plans. Although this creates challenges we see this as part of the Canada Health Act and our Canadian identity.
Some co-ops have medical staff salaried by their ministries of health, allowing them the time to give excellent care to complex patients. While in other co-ops, the medical staff have to bill for each procedure – creating pressure and heavy administrative workloads.