Employers’ Role In Senior Care: Conquering The Senior Care Problem
“Commercial entities can no longer afford to ignore the problem.” - Shainoor Khoja, CEO, and founder of Thriving.ai.
The senior care problem is not going to go away anytime soon
In fact, it’s set to get a whole lot worse, particularly from an employer’s perspective. For example, consider the potential working hours sacrificed to caregiving duties. We’re all living longer thanks to medical advances, better diets, and healthier lifestyles. Due to ever-diminishing public service budgets and the consolidation and/or closing of many community care services, senior caregiving responsibility is increasingly falling on the shoulders of younger, working family members.
Although the provision of senior caregiving has been of grave concern to employers for many years, the seriousness of the situation has been intensified recently. Over the last twelve months, thanks to Covid-19 care homes in crisis and real-world community care is rapidly disappearing. This in turn is putting increased pressure on the family caregiver.
Governments the world over are bracing themselves for multiple waves of the pandemic. They are introducing a range of measures to try and reduce unnecessary in-person contact. The situation is not going to improve for the foreseeable future.
Caregiving impacts physical health and mental wellbeing
Those family members doing the actual caring are often in full-time employment. They are trying to cope with the added pressure of caregiving responsibilities. Not only can this impact their physical health and mental wellbeing, their performance and productivity in the workplace is affected also.
Unlike childcare, many people don’t openly admit to their senior caregiving responsibilities. They fear being rebuked by their respective employers for not achieving their professional responsibilities. Overcoming child care challenges involves spinning multiple plates; handling the pressure of looking after elderly relatives takes caregiving responsibilities to a whole new level. Think of the added financial, health, and wellbeing responsibilities which form part of the caregiver's role. Such is the physical and emotional pressure of senior caregiving that almost half of all senior caregivers experience a decline in their own physical health and 47% suffer from depression.
The upshot is that family caregivers (the majority of whom are also unpaid) end up being signed off work. They're obliged to reduce their working hours. Some may give up their professional careers altogether. As a result, many businesses are losing talented staff hand over fist by not facing the problem head-on.
Employers need to engage in the senior care problem
Employers need to adopt a more open approach to the senior care problem, not dissimilar to childcare. This could take the form of flexible hours, home working or job sharing. Employers could consider implementing senior care benefit schemes (again not dissimilar to childcare). Or they may offer to run support groups and workshops for those finding the pressure to be too much.
Some well-known brands have started facing up to the caregiving dilemma. They are implementing policies or investing in resources to help alleviate some of the issues. Starbucks, for example, has introduced a caregiver benefit scheme. Amgen and Brinker International, among others, are leveraging digital technologies to offer assistance. Unfortunately, both are still in the minority. Only 2% of employers offer backup eldercare according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
How technology can help
In a world driven by tech, digitally-powered tools provide a cost-effective way to ease the burden of the senior care problem. Many are centered on the responsibilities from an employer perspective, and there is a wealth of solutions readily available on the market. Check out Cairloop, Torchlight, and Ginger.io.
There are a number of new players are also entering this space, including Thriving.ai. Thriving is specifically developed to ease the stress of senior caregiving. It is an intuitive tool that allows employees to check in with their relatives and associated care circles using their smartphones. Thus removing the need to take time off work for caregiving duties and the associated guilt involved. It also offers reassurance to caregivers by giving them peace of mind that their loved one is happy and well.
Offering caregiving incentives
Offering caregiving incentives to employees is a great strategy for companies to retain staff and boost morale. Indeed, those organizations that embrace the senior care problem usually find that the hidden costs of ignoring the problem far outweigh the costs of investing time and resources to help their employees manage their caring responsibilities. Staff turnover is reduced and morale is boosted, which in turn translates into better performance, productivity, and ultimately profitability. The caregiver’s burden is eased. The senior needing care doesn’t feel like a burden. The employer has a happier, more productive employee. It’s a win-win-win in the end!
"There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those you are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers." - Rosalynn Carter.
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