Home Health Care Policies: Employers Begin Addressing the Needs of Employees Responsible for Elder Care
As a larger amount of the population continues to age, planning for the methods and costs of care by loved ones is an increasingly vital task. As it turns out, many employers are lending a helping hand to their employees. According to the Washington Post, many employees are now offered helpful information regarding senior care and may even be allowed additional time off to help with family members in need of care. However, the majority of them do not offer this time as paid leave.
According to the Families and Work Institute’s National Study of Employers, the amount of employers providing information about elder care services to their employees has risen from 31% in 2008 to 43% in 2014. Approximately 41% of employers now offer some type of option to pay for elder care with pre-tax dollars. However, only 7% of employers polled in the study were said to offer some sort of short term respite care for those employees who are providing care and also working.
Some employers, however, are beginning to take part in the trend of offering more progressive programs. Resources such as emergency backup adult care, geriatric assessments, social workers to assist with referrals for adult day care programs, along with legal, financial and emotional counseling are now becoming more commonplace in cities with booming elderly populations.
“We’re starting to see pockets of innovation,” said Drew Holzapfel in the Washington Post Article, who heads React, Respect a Caregiver’s Time, a network of more than 75 firms, academic institutions and nonprofit groups seeking to change workplace culture so that people can better manage work and elder care. “But with elder care, we’re finding that if you haven’t experienced it, you have a hard time understanding it.”
Surveys have found that two thirds of those who are responsible for the care of a senior are currently employed full-time. One of the most important statements of the article highlighted the fact that if employers don’t “get it”, regarding the kinds of resources and commitment required to provide care for loved ones, there can be even further multi-faced consequences for not supporting employees. “MetLife estimates that failing to support workers with elder-care responsibilities can cost as much as $34 billion a year in lost productivity, absenteeism, disengagement, turnover and increased health-care costs.”
Surprisingly, some of the biggest supporters of workplace reform regarding caretakers are top level executives and CEOs who are also struggling to find the best type of care for aging family members. “They get religion on what it takes to keep people with elder-care responsibilities in the workforce, and then they push it through the culture.”
Jack Watters, vice president of external and medical affairs at Pfizer stated that leaders at the pharmaceutical company Pfizer were working on a potential Alzheimer’s drug when they began to think seriously about the elder care responsibilities of their workforce. With the addition of employee surveys finding that many were silently dealing with the burdens of providing long-term care for family members, the company took action towards providing solutions and flexible options to employees. “It behooves all serious-minded employers today to recognize that a significant proportion of their employees may be caregivers,” he said. “If the informal caring network were to disappear, it would be a catastrophe for the country.”
For those in the home care industry, these are equally important realizations. Understanding the needs and the burdens on those tackling the stresses of a career, as well as trying to provide high quality care for family members should be taken into consideration. From a marketing standpoint, these concepts are incredibly important.