Did you know that between 30 and 35 percent of all U.S. workers report that they are currently providing care to an aging parent or disabled family member? About 11 percent of working caregivers will take a leave of absence and 10 percent will leave their jobs. Employers that can help their employees manage the stress of caregiver responsibilities and find balance have a lot to gain
Today, my guest blogger Blanca Ceballos who offers suggestion for how employers can help their workers balance work and caregiving. Blanca is Manager of the Caregiver Resource Center atUnited HomeCare. United HomeCare has designed The Working Caregiver Assistance Program to provide employees who are caring for a parent or other loved one with information and support. Blanca can be reached at [email protected].
Caregivers face daily challenges as they juggle work schedules, parenting responsibilities, and personal lives while also caring for an aging or disabled family member. High blood pressure, weight gain, and depression are just some of the common health conditions family caregivers may experience.
I talked with one woman whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease. Several months after her mother moved in with her family, the caregiver learned that her cholesterol had risen dramatically and she had gained weight. The woman realized she was no longer exercising and was turning to comfort foods to help cope with the stress. She also no longer slept well, waking up several times a night to check on her mom.
This caregiver’s situation is not unique. Employers will have to face the facts: between 30 to 35 percent of all U.S. workers are family caregivers, putting them into a special class of employees – the working caregiver. At one time or another, most of these employees have to make some adjustments to their work life to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities.
By addressing the unique needs of working caregivers through worksite wellness programs, employers can improve the health and wellness of their staff and also yield bottom line savings through reduced absenteeism and lost productivity.
- Look for signs of caregiver stress among employees and reach out to them. Caregivers who are struggling to manage all their responsibilities at home and at work may show signs of fatigue, increased absenteeism or depression. But sometimes they will be reluctant to discuss family caregiving issues in a work setting. By reaching out to them, employers can initiate a dialogue that may help employees understand that they are not alone and there are community resources that may be of help.
- Become an information resource for employees with caregiving responsibilities. Employers are in an excellent position to help employees simply by making available good information. Invite experts to come in and talk on the subject of caring for an elderly or disabled family member. Some organizations, including United HomeCare, offer free seminars to help caregivers learn more about managing their responsibilities, provide basic caregiving tips, and also share information on community resources and support groups.
- Educate employees about home care services they can obtain with flex care plans. Many employees who participate in flex care plans may not realize that some home care services for a dependent parent or other family member may be paid from flex care plans. Human Resources professionals can help communicate this information to employees and the conditions that must be met to qualify.
Helping working caregivers is a win-win situation.