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Employer Support for Care Giving Employees

“There are only four kinds of people in this world. Those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that in the year 2010, 54% of workforce employees will provide eldercare for a parent or parents and that nearly two-thirds of caregivers will experience conflict between demands at home and demands from employers.

Today’s employed Baby Boomers are the caregiver generation for their parents. They are finding themselves juggling care responsibilities around their employment obligations. Sometimes employees find they have no option but to take leave from work or use sick time to meet their caregiving demands.

Employers also feel the toll it is taking on their employees. A report by the AARP describes the cost to employers:

“Companies are also seeing the emotional and physical toll that caregiving takes on their workers. In one study, 75% of employees caring for adults reported negative health consequences, including depression, stress, panic attacks, headaches, loss of energy and sleep, weight loss, and physical pain. Businesses suffer, too, by having to pay high health insurance costs and in lost productivity. That doesn’t count the promotions or assignments workers turn down that require travel or relocation away from aging relatives.”

Businesses that don’t offer benefits or address eldercare wind up paying for them. A recent study by the MetLife Market Mature Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving states that U.S. companies pay between $17.1 billion and $33.6 billion annually, depending on the level of caregiving involved, on lost productivity. That equals $2,110 for every full-time worker who cares for an adult.

Eldercare cost businesses:

  • $6.6 billion to replace employees (9% left work either to take early retirement or quit)
  • Nearly $7 billion in workday interruptions (coming in late, leaving early, taking time off during the day, or spending work time on eldercare matters)
  • $4.3 billion in absenteeism” AARP

Typically, human resource departments work with employees on many issues that may affect their work productivity. There are programs for drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, illness, absenteeism and child care; but, help with eldercare issues is not normally provided.

A growing number of companies are directing their HR departments to provide resources, education and group help for caregiving issues. Once such resouce is Care Connect at Work, an employee benefits company providing hands-on assistance to employees to help them better balance their caregiving and work responsibilities. Care Connect at Work has care coordinators who assist in the following ways:

  • Identify and address the problems and concerns related to their loved one’s care needs and their role as a caregiver

  • Provide home and safety assessments to determine the on-going care needs of the employee’s senior loved ones

  • Create a customized long-term care plan for the senior loved one to address current and future needs, such as health care, finances, insurance and legal documents

  • Work hands-on with the employee caregiver to implement the long-term care plan, including filing for Veteran’s benefits, Medicaid, finding placement in assisted living or nursing homes and addressing family concerns and conflicts and coordinating other services as needed

  • Assist directly with the demands and dilemmas of caregiving and planning in order to alleviate and reduce the amount of time that the caregiver would typically spend coordinating for themselves while on the job.

  • Provide support and/or counseling to help the employee caregiver and their family work through physical and emotional concerns

  • Offer employer approved caregiver and retirement support services will help to improve employee morale and loyalty.

  • Care Connect coordinators will also work around the employee caregiver’s schedule to further reduce time away from work.

Employers, employees and eldercare service providers working together can make parent or senior caregiving a workable solution for all.

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