Kippi Waters of the Peninsula Homecare Cooperative catches up on her organization’s paperwork. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News ()

Kippi Waters of the Peninsula Homecare Cooperative catches up on her organization’s paperwork. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News ()

New caregiving co-op now in operation in Port Townsend

PORT TOWNSEND — When Kippi Waters began the formation of the Peninsula Homecare Cooperative with six other women last year, she believed it would change the face of caregiving.

Today she believes the cooperative model, where all employees have a stake in the company, has a more universal reach.

“I think this is the solution to the problems of capitalism,” Waters said.

“It gives workers a greater incentive to be involved in their careers and can strengthen the middle class in this country.”

More personal

The Peninsula Homecare Cooperative, with 14 member owners, hopes to make local caregiving more personal, involving people who have a stake in the local community.

Waters said the co-op, which opened for business Feb. 8, is one of two worker-owned health organizations in the state — in addition to Circle of Life in Bellingham — and one of only six in the country.

It is one of four co-ops in Port Townsend, she said, along with Sunshine Propane, Blue Heron Construction and the Shipwright’s Co-op.

“This is about as close to socialism you can get in this country,” said Chris Chase, one of 12 members of the 35-year-old Shipwright’s Co-op.

“It allows everyone in the company to make decisions about their future and share in the overall benefits.”

Worker-owned co-ops differ from customer-owned co-ops such as the Food Co-Op or Quimper Mercantile in Port Townsend.

Co-ops, unlike corporations, distribute the ownership of the company among all the workers in a way that its control is managed by the employees instead of being mandated by an executive department.

Waters, who has worked in corporations, called having a board of directors “a beautiful thing” because more than one person makes the decision and, in this case, regularly shuffles the board in order to give every employee a chance to guide the business.

Its local aspect also provides a great advantage, she said, as all of the members are from Port Townsend and are invested in the community.

This is a more effective model, she said, than a caregiving organization owned by an out-of-state corporation run by people who have never been to Port Townsend.

‘Pride’ in workplace

“This empowers the worker and brings pride back to the workplace,” Waters said.

“It means a lot to have a stake in the business, especially when you are dealing with the elderly.”

Licensed caregivers are required to complete 75 hours of state-certified training.

Additionally, all of the co-op’s members hold a Certified Nursing Assistant certification, which requires another 125 training hours.

Waters said that about one fourth of Port Townsend residents are older than 65, making caregiving a local growth industry.

The occupation has a high turnover rate, which gets in the way of building long-term relationships with clients.

A caregiver’s mission is to provide assistance with daily living, she said, including getting dressed, preparing meals, providing transportation, running errands and light housekeeping.

“The role of the caregiver changes over time,” she said. “One of the joys of caregiving is to see them all the way through from standard care to hospice care.”

Long-term relationship

Waters said that such a long-term relationship helps the client in the transition from independence to dependence and saves the client the inconvenience of having to train someone new every few months.

Waters said that co-op employees go through a three-month evaluation period during which time they get $13 an hour. If they pass the evaluation, they are raised to $15 and get an immediate voice in the company and a share of the profits.

The reaction has been so positive she expects some profit share to be distributed within a year of the co-op’s opening.

The shares will be determined by the number of hours worked, she said.

Successful venture

Waters said she has attempted other group projects to little success. This is the first time it’s worked well.

“Very typically it’s been my experience that it doesn’t work because egos get in the way and people get hurt,” she said.

“But this is the first time I’ve experienced gathering with people toward a common goal, because we all had a common vision that felt so important to us.”

The co-op, located at 610 Polk St., is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

For more information, call 360-385-9664.


Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or [email protected]

More in News

A stylized dragon with its mouth operated by Kurt White makes its way down Washington Street as part of the Olympic Theatre Arts entry in Saturday’s Sequim Irrigation Festival Grand Parade. The event returned to an in-person activity with more than 90 entries and thousands of spectators lining the parade route. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Irrigation Festival Grand parade

Awards issued to floats in the Sequim Irrigation Festival Grand Parade on… Continue reading

Two on Peninsula die from COVID-19

Cases rising in both counties’ classrooms

Linda Martin, center, from Port Townsend, stands beside her husband Mike Cornforth on the corner of Kearney and state Highway 20 in Port Townsend. Martin, with PT Indivisible, collaborated with Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and Women’s March to stage a rally on Saturday to protest the possible U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision guaranteeing the right to abortion. About 250 people from as far away as Seattle and Sequim took part in the rally. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Abortion rights supporters rally nationwide

Protests organized on Peninsula

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict, left, reads off the names of Washington law enforcment officers killed in the line of duty as Port Angeles Police Chief Brian Smith looks on during a ceremony of Friday honoring law enforcement personnel as part of National Police Week. The ceremoney, held at the Liberty Bell replica at Veterans Park in Port Angeles, included music from the Port Angeles High School choir, a flag ceremony, a gun salute and ringing of the bell.
Memorial bell ringing in Port Angeles

Above: Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict, left, reads off the names of… Continue reading

Avian flu found on Peninsula

All flock owners warned to protect fowl

No shooting zones defined in county code

Jefferson County’s Shooting in the County Code No. 8.50… Continue reading

Most Read