6 ways your employer can help with eldercare
With an ageing population, the world of working is changing. One in four older female workers, and one in eight older male workers, have caring responsibilities.
It’s incredibly hard to juggle work and caring, and half a million people have given up their jobs in the last two years because of their caring responsibilities. That’s a lot of talent and experience lost, and something that’s expensive to replace.
There are ways though that employers can support their staff to stay in their jobs. It’s mostly about having a flexible approach and understanding what help carers need.
What can the business do?
Here are 6 ways that your employer could help support people who want and need to keep working while supporting older family, whatever the size of your organisation.
1. Provide information
Caring for parents and other older family means needing access to information around healthcare, social care, and other eldercare support services. There are also financial and legal issues, such as Power of Attorney, to be researched. The breadth and depth of new knowledge to be acquired is breathtaking. Very large organisations have the resources to create intranets tailored to their employees’ needs. For smaller business, an awareness of, and signposting to, When they Get Older, for example, and the charities focused on specific areas of ageing, is a really good place to start.
2. Flexible working
Businesses know how to provide flexible working for parents. The government has set out rules on allowing employees who have been in a job for at least 26 weeks to request flexible working. Now they need to think more about how to implement this strategy for those caring for older relatives. It may be that some employees would benefit from part-time working for a short or long period. Being able to work from home is also great boon for working carers, but it does require trust between employers and employees. While many are happy to work at this, it’s not true of every organisation, especially those with more traditional outlooks.
3. Carers’ leave
This could reflect the paid parental leave already available in many organisations. It is slightly more complex, as expectant parents know when they will need leave and for how long, while eldercare tends to be much more ad hoc.
4. Carers’ network
Caring takes a toll on employees who are trying to balance being effective at work and not abandoning their parents. By setting up internal face-to-face or digital networks for carers, businesses can demonstrate their support for their staff. The ability to share knowledge and experience can help to relieve the emotional burden as well as the practical challenge.
5. Support in finding care
Finding the right care for a parent can be hugely time-consuming. Older independent people rarely welcome the idea of strangers into their home, and finding a care home is even more complex. If an employer has a strong relationship with experts in the field, employees can reduce the time and effort they spend in researching and trialling carers, and focus better on their work.
6. Backup care. Again, perhaps one for the larger organisations who can engage a third party to find eldercare in an emergency when the carefully laid plans of employees fail at the last moment.
How can they do it?
Depending on the budget available, employers
- can tackle these areas themselves
- encourage employees to work together to find and share resources
- in the case of the largest organisations, outsource the whole project to an employee benefits provider such as My Family Care.
How When They Get Older can help
We publish expert advice and shared experiences that can be built into the eldercare programme offered by organisations of any size. The articles on our website are written to be clear, accessible, and to signpost the valuable information available from other resources, such as AgeUK, Alzheimer’s Society and Independent Age.
Our life coach and eldercare expert, Dr Lesley Trenner, is available to offer help in her column on our site, and on an individual basis.
We provide places to talk, both as follow-ons from articles and on our Facebook page.
Finally we are always happy to talk to individual organisations about how we can help them provide tailored information to their employees.
Author Kathy Lawrence is editor of When They Get Older.