Not everyone gets to take a look at senior housing when making the final decision to take care of their elderly parents. Some simply can’t afford senior housing. Others can’t bear sending their parents to assisted living facilities. And other people find themselves taking up the primary caregiver role because their elderly parent refuses to live apart from their loved ones.
Whatever the reason is for taking up the role of primary caregiver, one thing is clear: the financial and mental burden on working caregivers is great. Many employers now recognize employees suffer greatly from the financial and mental toll of providing care to their elderly and are now offering special assistance to ease this suffering. Below are ways your organization can help employees ease the toll of eldercare responsibility.
Providing Flexible Working Options
For many employees, working for you and caring for their elderly parents are full-time jobs. However, they can’t be at the same place at the same time. So, when your employee has to choose between taking their parents to the hospital for their bi-weekly checkup or sitting in on a meeting at work, they’ll likely pick their parents over you. And this affects their performance, lowering your organization’s productivity output.
As an employer, it’s in your best interest to help your employees keep their productivity up. And to accomplish this, you must create workplace policies that address senior personal care services. Start by offering flexible working options like a hybrid workplace (a few days working at home and a few in the office) or a complete work-from-home environment.
In fact, a post covid AARP research study found that 9 in 10 working caregivers preferred working from home since it gave them the flexibility to handle their work responsibilities and caregiving duties. The same study also found that 4 in 10 caregivers would look for new jobs if their employer ended the work-from-home policies after covid. Providing flexible work options also gives more time to your employees to take care of their physical and mental health. Other flexible work options include paid leave and flexible working hours.
Providing Elder Benefits (Financial Support)
If you listen to your employees, the financial burden is their biggest hurdle. The cost of living is rising. And it’s also unlikely you’ve raised your salary wages since many organizations are suffering during these tough economic times. However, you can still provide financial support to your caregivers working for you. Make dependent care assistance plans available. These plans deduct a small portion of your employees’ salaries (total amount before taxes) to cover eldercare costs.
Alternatively, you can offer to cover part or the full cost of respite care (backup eldercare). Respite care is a service that provides primary caregivers short-term relief so that they can rest or take care of an emergency issue. It can be for a few hours or take several days or weeks. Starbucks is an example of an organization that offers its employees 10 days of subsidized respite care annually. A third example of financial assistance you can provide is offering eldercare subsidies. These subsidies cover part of the full costs or respite care costs.
Providing Access To Caregiving Resources
Many organizations, especially small businesses, may find it challenging to support working caregivers financially. If you find yourself in this situation, how about providing your employees easy access to caregiving resources? Start by providing free access to online coaching services that teach people how to provide care to the elderly. Access to expert advice saves your employees and their families from the stress of having to learn how to take care of the elderly through experience.
You should also help your employees access elder law attorneys. These attorneys will help your employees take care of important legal issues required to care for their elderly parents. These issues include Medicaid, estate planning, living wills, power of attorney, health care proxies, etc. Access to legal consultation is important because it helps working caregivers save money and avoid unnecessary stress later on.
Another important resource you must ensure to provide your employees is access to counseling services or support groups. The mental toll of caring for a vulnerable loved one is unimaginable. If not managed properly, it can affect your employees’ physical health and ability to perform. Therefore, providing mental and emotional support to your employees is important. Make it known to work caregivers in your organization that you can arrange for counseling anytime they need it, no questions asked.
Alternatively, you can connect your employees with organizations like Cigna that support the health and well-being of caregivers. As the older generation in America increases, the number of working caregivers in your organization will increase. So, having the right policies, organizational culture, and resources to help these employees is important. But before you assist, you must know and understand your employees’ needs. Therefore, how about you now start taking the right steps to get this conversation started?
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