comes with an entirely different set of workplace complications.
Clearly, the impact on the workplace is huge and the pressures will
continue to mount, so employers should heed the call.
Unfortunately, the “ostrich mentality” – sticking one’s head in the
ground with the hope that the problem will go away – is rampant.
Employees carrying the additional burden of eldercare respon-sibilities
are exhausted, overwhelmed and trying to deal with a
maze of health, financial and legal issues as they struggle to find
care for elderly relatives.
PROVIDING SUPPORT FOR EMPLOYEES
In the United States, Deloitte has been trying to strike the right
balance in terms of tackling its employees’ eldercare needs. The
company has a family leave program that allows employees to take
paid time off for eldercare, spousal care or childcare beyond infan-cy.
Both male and female employees can take up to 16 weeks of
paid family leave each year.
Canadian companies can learn from this approach. To put the
issue on the table, HR professionals must generate buy-in from
senior management and focus on eldercare as a critical strategic
If an executive is managing 40 people and 10 of those employ-ees
have eldercare issues, the team’s productivity will obviously
be impacted. The company needs firm eldercare support policies
and programs, along with executives who will implement them.
A formal eldercare program would include education for leaders,
managers and employees.
Next, take an honest look at the realities of caregiving and com-pare
those to the offerings in your benefits plan. Some employers
offer a basic eldercare service through their benefits plan – typ-ically
a call-in service. However, this is much more complicated
than making a telephone call. If your 90-year-old mother falls and
breaks her hip, what are your options? How do you get the hospi-tal
to delay her discharge so you can talk to her financial planner,
and what can you do this week?
Often, people don’t know who to call for help. This can be ad-dressed
with a good eldercare preparation program and potential
referrals to trusted service providers. As for flex-work, many or-ganizations
have policies, but they only go so far. Consider this: a
person looking after an elderly parent in Ontario can expect to de-vote
6.5 years – that’s the average – to the situation.
Another common issue is how to juggle work and caregiving.
Education seminars and ongoing communications for employees
and providing referrals and links to local resources in the commu-nity
are all good ideas.
It’s important for employers to educate their workers in terms of
time, cost and expertise required when it comes to eldercare. As it
stands now, the Canadian workplace is just beginning to wake up
to the realities of caring for an aging population.
It takes a village to deal with various eldercare scenarios. That
means the caregiver needs a lot of help. Not having a program is
waiting for the inevitable, but then it will be too late. n
Susan Hyatt is the co-founder and CEO of Silver Sherpa Inc.
CONSIDER THIS: A
PERSON LOOKING AFTER
AN ELDERLY PARENT IN
ONTARIO CAN EXPECT
TO DEVOTE 6.5 YEARS
– THAT’S THE AVERAGE
– TO THE SITUATION.
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38 ❚ SEPTEMBER 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL