My wife and I are in our 50s with careers, are caregivers to our 3 children who live at home, are caregivers to our own parents who are in their 80s, and wait a minute, are caregivers to my grandmother who is 102 years old. True story. What gives? Most likely the health of the caregiver.
We’ve become a nation of caregivers. According to Statistics Canada, our aging population is fuelling caregiving needs across the country. By 2030, seniors are projected to account for 25% of our population. We now bear the responsibility of caring for the elderly, the sick and our children in addition to holding down fulltime jobs. Many caregivers are so overburdened that they have no choice but to put careers on hold. I thought I would share with you some knowledge we have around this issue, for you to consider:
- More than 8 million Canadians provide informal care to a family member or friend.
- More than 1 million caregivers are older than 65.
- 44% of caregivers between the ages of 45-64 care for both a parent and children.
- The number of seniors requiring care is set to double over the next 15 years.
- 39% of caregivers look after the needs of their parents, 8% care for a spouse.
- 35% of Canada’s workforce provides informal, unpaid work while working.
- 6 million caregivers take time off work to provide care.
- 10% of caregivers spend more than 30 hours per week providing care.
- 80% of all care given to seniors in the community and 30% of services to seniors in institutions are provided by informal caregivers.
- The economic value of caregivers is astounding: caregivers who look after seniors save Canada’s health care system between $24 to 31 billion annually.
*Data provided by CARP
It’s estimated that every year Canada loses the equivalent of nearly 558,000 fulltime employees from the workforce due to their inability to manage the conflicting demands of paid work and care (The Vanier Institute). These employee losses can cause tremendous disruption to the workplace and can negatively impact a business. Caring for a caregiver is not only an act of human kindness but it makes very sound business sense. It can enhance your organization’s image and reputation, facilitate recruitment and increase retention. Employee wellness and wellbeing increases productivity and job performance, boosts morale and inspires loyalty.
Trying to meet your employees’ responsibilities as caregivers and their obligations to the job is a Herculean task. Many caregivers lack the skills and resources to cope with the demands and as a result caregiving can take a toll on their mental and physical health. There are many ways that you can support your caregiver employees, such as providing:
- EAP services
- Flexible hours
- Work-from-home options
- Job sharing
- Parental/compassionate leave
Flexibility is of paramount importance when trying to accommodate your caregiver employees. Each case will be different and should be evaluated on its own merit, so it is important to have the conversation with your staff to ensure they feel heard and considered. It takes effort, but it benefits both the employer and the employee.
Providing needed care for caregivers is an ongoing issue that is bubbling to the surface now. Do you have a plan in place for supporting employees who are caregivers?