Caregiving for the Elderly – An increasing problem in the workplace
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Caregiving for the Elderly – An increasing problem in the workplace

Are the following scenarios common in your workplace?

  • Employees taking emergency leave frequently
  • Employees leaving the workforce/on sabbatical due to family issues
  • Employees coming late to work or leaving work early
  • Employees requesting flexible hours or part-time roles

Perhaps these are signs that your employee is playing a major role in providing care for a family member or loved one, either as primary caregiver, or trying to get the home in order with the help of a maid.

Over the years, there has been a significant increase in threats on productivity, employee retention, absenteeism, workday interruptions, resulting costs of training new hires, increased supervisory involvement, and accidents on the jobs. One of the major contributing factor is an increase in demand for employees to also play the role of a caregiver in the family. Businesses need to start acknowledging this as an issue and addressing it in order to reduce the negative impact on productivity and excellence, which also leads to losses in revenues.

What does an employee with caregiver stress look like?

One of the common indicators of someone being the main caregiver is the frequent application of emergency leave. A high percentage of employees would have gone through this, having to bring their elderly parent for an urgent doctor’s appointment caused by sudden unforeseen emergencies.

It is also common to see these people being busy on the phone throughout the day, either giving or receiving updates on the condition of the family member being cared for.

The demands of being the primary person to provide care can take a toll on employees. Some end up missing working, coming in late, or perhaps leaving early to tend to their loved ones. Many also lack sleep and are unfocused due to worries and the inability to juggle work and family.

This phenomena creates more problems down the road. The additional workload due to prolonged absenteeism of their colleague creates unnecessary stress and causes a slowdown in productivity and overall morale of the team, this is especially true if the primary caregiver plays an important role in the company, or takes a leadership position in the team, yet is not present mentally.

The role of corporates in addressing the caregiving crisis

Seeking help from the management is not usually the first go-to solution for such situations. Employees in general are afraid of identifying themselves as a primary caregiver, due to the fact that they might project to management as being less committed or distracted, putting them at risk of being passed over on promotion or even fired.

On the other hand, some don’t even think of themselves as caregivers, but merely as a good child/family member, since the caregiving role is often done behind the scenes. Family members do not usually realise the full extent of how demanding the task is and usually the employer/management/bosses are not aware of what the employee goes through beyond the 9-5 life in the office.

Corporates play a huge role in addressing the snowballing caregiver issues. Malaysia is projected to become an ageing nation by 2030, with 15% of the population above 60 years. Employees in their late 30s would potentially start to feel the strain of a role thrust upon them overnight. Apart from just providing employees with a job and salary, the corporates could educate employees on planning for the future, the availability of caregiving services in the market, or to provide help as a corporate company, either in the form of benefits, or negotiating special corporate discounts for their staff. This is essential to ensuring that the overall wellbeing of the employee is taken care of.

Corporates have to eliminate the stigma of using caregiving services, it is no different from setting up creches or providing childcare benefits. Employees benefit greatly as they can focus on their career and progression, while keeping their loved ones cared for by professional caregivers. The peace of mind that comes with such help is priceless!

Proper communication channels should also be set in place to ensure that the employees are able to discuss their struggles with with regards to playing the caregiver role, with appropriate advice and counselling provided. Having a culture of being transparent and not having to hide anything from the management builds a team of trusting, loyal, and dedicated employees.

Corporates spend a fortune trying to recruit the best of the best, such additional benefits would ensure that they retain and nurture their best talents. Consider the process of headhunting a senior executive, and after months of going through the process, they unexpectedly have to resign to take on the caregiving role full-time. This gap can now be bridged.

What should corporates do?

We provide some solutions to address this caregiving crisis:

Engage professional organisations to have talks on various issues relating to caregiving

We provide talks for corporates, touching on the issue of caregiving and how the employees can care for their loved ones better. We provide fundamental skills to help everyone be better primary caregivers, and to avoid injuries, or general safety rules. There are tips on transfer, lifting, moving, hygiene and vital sign observations. We have shorter and longer talks to suit the availability and need of each organisation.

Survey and understand the true needs to provide the appropriate compensation and benefits

Knowing the demographics and general needs of employees is crucial in being able to propose meaningful and practical employee benefits and policies. With birth rates at an all time low in Malaysia, perhaps childcare benefits do not apply as benefits to everyone. Healthcare benefits are also only applicable to the ill, which means the employee already has more personal issues on hand. An increasing amount of senior staff and key personnel in the company, would start to identify with the need for eldercare, a service that a house maid alone would not be able to provide. Caregiving services also go beyond eldercare. Those employees post-hospitalisation would benefit greatly from faster recovery with professional care from a caregiver, while others can get physiotherapy services from the comforts of their home.

As the corporates begin to look deeper into the caregiving crisis, it is certain that the results will shed light on the underlying issues which are causing the corporates to experience losses, either direct financial ones, or in time, and productivity. Understanding and empathising with the employee creates a trusting and nurturing atmosphere in the workplace, and would likely result in higher staff retention and engagement.

CARE Concierge provides nurses, therapists and caregivers (CARE Pros) to the home for eldercare and recovery. Our CARE Pros are certified and trained to provide the best care for your loved ones by assisting with their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) or to provide specialized care for cancer, stroke recovery, Dementia, Alzheimer’s as well as post-hospitalization. The CARE Pros work closely with our CARE Managers who are backed by a team of doctors and nurses.

Visit our CARE Concierge website or contact us on 1300 22 8822 to find out more about how we can help with your needs.

CARE Concierge also provides care packages and talks for corporate companies to help with employee retention. Speak to us to find out more about what we can do for your company.