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Offerdal Healthcare Centre

Krokoms kommun, Sweden

Offerdal Healthcare Centre is a resident-owned cooperative economic organisation that provides healthcare services to local residents in a rural area of Jämtland.  The centre has approximately 700 co-owners who all contribute to the centre both financially and by participating in decision making. 

Local healthcare vital in rural communities

A local healthcare centre located in a rural area in Offerdal parish was threatened with closure in the early 90s. Its personnel decided to take matters into their own hands in order to prevent this from happening.

A cooperative economic association in the health care sector

In 1992, Offerdal Healthcare Centre was established as a cooperative economic association. The association was owned and self-managed by the employees, and was contracted by the county council to deliver healthcare services. In 2010, the Offerdal healthcare centre again came under threat of closure due to budget cuts in the primary health care sector in Sweden. This time management turned to the local residents and, from that point forward, the centre has operated as a resident-owned cooperative economic organisation with about 700 co-owners.

A democratic approach to health care

Over 700 people have invested in the company, demonstrating the importance of the healthcare centre for the viability and wellbeing of the local community. Keeping the healthcare centre open has also been vital from the perspective of job creation. The municipality has seen a positive trend in demographic development over the years that can, at least in part, be attributed to accessibility to the healthcare services. Since the beginning of the local ownership model, the operation of the healthcare centre has been driven by the employees and local residents through a democratic governance approach where all voices are equally important. The employees and other members of the cooperative participate in decision-making and have a meaningful influence over the centre’s activities.

Local engagement and participation in a cooperative business

The support of local residents, along with their trust in the organisation, was crucial in enabling the establishment of the cooperative. The structure of the cooperative business and the democratic model of governance are advantageous – both for the employees and the patients. Through engagement and participation the members of the cooperative feel empowered and committed to the ongoing success of the venture. Budget cuts in the primary health care sector in Sweden have posed the biggest challenge. Future challenges include uncertainties related to further budget cuts, Swedish regional reform and increased competition, as well as labour and competency shortages.

100% community funded

About 700 local residents invested in the organisation. One share in the cooperative costs SEK 400 and the yearly membership fee is SEK 150. No direct financial assistance has been provided by the municipal and regional authorities, but the authorities were supportive and positive.

Key learnings for municipalities

Offerdal Healthcare Centre is a unique example of a healthcare facility driven by the residents and employees together. The democratic governance model through which it operates has proved effective in the context of rural Sweden. The cooperative model has a bright future in the healthcare sector in Sweden and opportunities to further utilise it should be explored. The way that the organisational structure allows for participation of cooperative members in the decision-making process strengthens community spirit, builds trust and contributes to greater civic engagement among residents.

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Page last updated September 2016.