Migrant women found and launch Ireland's first and only Carers Cooperative
The organisation aim to offer clients what larger, profit led agencies cannot; quality time.
Migrant women have founded and launched Ireland's first and only Carers Cooperative. According to the founders, unlike profit-led care businesses, The Great Co-op will be able to provide “quality care and quality jobs."
They also plan to reinvest all profits in the carers, who will lead the organisation.
58-year-old co-founder Maria Jikijela told The Irish Times that pressures from agencies do not allow carers to spend adequate time with clients.
"You can be scheduled to start with one client at 8am for an hour, and you know the hour will not be enough if the client is bed-bound and needs to be rotated, then prepare breakfast, take her for a shower," she said.
"Then the next client starts at 9. It might be far away in traffic and you’re late."
"You are rushing, you don’t have time to see what’s happening with your client, you cannot build a relationship," Maria explained.
"You are stressing. None of them is getting the quality time and care they need."
Maria, who came from South Africa 14 years ago worked as an electrical engineer in Capetown before she began working as a carer in 2006.
She was working with care agencies until 2017, before she was employed by the HSE as a hospital carer.
Maria, who has been frontline staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, met other carers through the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland, before coming together to create the cooperative.
"We felt, when we talked about our work, we could change all those things. We decided on the Great Care Co-op to make a difference."
"It is led by migrant women, it is a worker-owned healthcare business."
The Great Care Co-op is a registered limited company with 12 women from Uganda, Zimbabwe, the Philippines and South Africa at the helm.
Currently operating in Dalkey, Co. Dublin, their plan is to expand across the country.
"We run it. We want more carers to join us," Maria continued.
"We will be able to give more time to clients and we will look after the carers better. They will have quality time with their clients and get more satisfaction from their work."