The tradition of the cooperative movement in Slovenia is more than 150 years old. During this period the cooperatives proved to be efficient organizations, linking the producers on the market, supplying the consumers, thus preserving the cultivated countryside. For this reason, in Slovenia the idea of cooperative is generally associated with post 2nd WW agricultural sector. But in the last decade, with development of social economy initiatives, cooperatives are definitely back!
Why cooperatives could be a good model of organization of care for older persons?
Care for older persons can be provided by different kinds of organisations: public services, non-profit organisations, private companies etc. They often operate side by side, sometimes they are complementing, other times competing with each other. Each model has its advantages and disadvantages. A private company providing care for older persons can be more independent than a non-profit organisation as their services are based on profitable expectations and not on calls for co-financing, donations and subsidies. On the other hand, a non-profit organisation shares important, community based values, creating solidarity among local community members and develops its services according to the needs of its end users.
A cooperative seems to take the best from both above mentioned models: it balances the economic viability and social benefits. Therefore we consider a cooperative model as a viable option for providing care for older persons in Slovenia.
Zveza društev upokojencev Slovenije (ZDUS), the largest non governmental organization in Slovenia, welcomes and promotes the idea of cooperatives.
The Festival of the Third Age, which takes place every year, celebrating 1st October – International Day of Older Persons, is a good opportunity to present organizations working for and with older persons, their activities and projects. There were also some providers of care for older persons presenting their services at the festival, but none of them organized as a cooperative. As ZDUS has been actively promoting the idea of care cooperatives for older persons and encouraging interested partners to establish them, we hope that we will have a opportunity to meet the first cooperative of this kind at the festival next autumn in Ljubljana.
Alenka Ogrin, ZDUS