The newest entrant in Washington Homecare Cooperative is Ridgeline Homecare Co-op. They are in the process of obtaining their agency license.
The co-op expects to serve the cities of Port Angeles and Sequim but will be licensed for Clallam County. Clallam is the tip of the Olympic Peninsula (except for Port Townsend). The county has a population of about 79,000 with about 30% over 65 years. Sequim, however, with only about 7,800 people has a 65+ population accounting for 40% of the community.
The State of Washington has become a hub of homecare co-ops over the last couple years. The model, however, is a bit different from the East coast. The co-ops out here are smaller and don’t have medicaid contracts. They focus on private pay (and insurance) which allows for higher rates, but also creates a bit of uncertainty and fluctuation in scheduling.
One primary reason for not accessing medicaid comes from the regulation focus of the State. Washington requires three years of operation for an agency to qualify for access to Medicaid billing. This prevents the new co-op agencies from entering this market. By the time they have acquired the three years, all of them have found that the private pay sector is meeting their needs and they no longer need access to Medicaid (not to mention that the State reporting requirements would add significant infrastructure costs).
However, the pathway to success for Ridgeline will be to get their license and become operational. The reality is that the demand for homecare far outweighs the supply of caregivers and that trend will only continue for the next 15-25 years.
The single biggest hurdle for Ridgeline is to acquire the Agency License which also requires becoming insured (all told they need to raise about $10,000). Some of the co-ops in Washington have found benefactors (such as the LION group in Port Townsend) or development loans. Likely Ridgeline will also be looking at these mechanisms as well, but they are also seeking donations from the co-op and homecare community.
Your donation may be tax deductible as they are working through NWCDC, a 501c3 organization. However, you should talk to your accountant about that. If you can help these folks get established, it be a lasting legacy to Clallam County and the worker co-op movement. A great way to celebrate National Co-op Month!