“Family Caregivers in the Workplace” – chapter 9 of “Caregiver Helpbook”

This post may only be of interest to caregivers who are employed outside the home.

A course called “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” was developed by an organization in Portland.  You can read general info about the self-care education program for family caregivers at powerfultoolsforcaregivers.org.

As part of the course, class participants receive a copy of a book titled “The Caregiver Helpbook.”  Brain Support Network volunteer Denise Dagan is reading the book and will be sharing the highlights, chapter by chapter.  If you’d like far more detail that Denise’s summaries allow as well as access to the book’s terrific worksheets, note that the book is available for purchase in both English and Spanish at powerfultoolsforcaregivers.org.

The title of chapter nine is “Family Caregivers in the Workplace.” In this two-page chapter, the impact of family caregivers in the workplace — both on the caregiver/employee and employer — is described.  Denise says:  “If you find yourself to be one of the working caregivers without respite, or employer support, this is where employing the lessons learned and tools shared in all previous chapters comes into play.  Start thinking of yourself as a care manager and bring those resources of family, friends, and professionals together for the benefit of your caree.”

Here’s Denise’s short report on chapter nine.



Notes by Denise

The Caregiver Helpbook
Chapter Nine – Family Caregivers in the Workplace

Many family caregivers work full or part time outside the home, often without support from their employer or co-workers.  As the number of family caregivers has escalated, family caregiving has become recognized as a social issue with significant impact on both employers and employees.

* About 10% of caregivers quit, resulting in costly turnover for employers, and lost income and benefits for employees.

* About 1 in 4 employees cares for an aging parent.

* 20% of caregivers leave their jobs, at least temporarily, to handle caregiving demands.

* 80% of long-distance caregivers are employed full or part-time and need to do many of their long-distance caregiving tasks during the work day.

* Absenteeism among family caregiver employees is less of a problem than “presenteeism” – employees who are on the job but distracted. This costs employers billions each year in lost productivity and safety claims.

* Some employers offer benefits such as flexible work schedules, funeral or bereavement leave, or health fairs that include information on aging services or services for people with chronic illness.
Few offer classes, employee assistance counseling, or written information for caregiving employees.
Fewer still offer referral services for family caregivers about taking care of themselves.

* Employees generally underestimate the amount of time caregiving will take and the impact it will have on their work life.

* Caregiving affects both genders in similar ways.  Male caregivers often do not let co-workers know of their caregiving responsibilities and stress.

* Retirement decisions are sometimes influenced by caregiving responsibilities.  Wives caring for husbands often retire earlier than planned.  Husband caregivers often work longer than planned because of financial concerns.

* Two of the major stressors for employed family caregivers are fear of unemployment and fear of loss of the health insurance benefits offered through the employer.

* Employees frequently use weekends and sick or vacation days to attend to caregiving.  This results in employees suffering from symptoms of exhaustion and burnout, since they have no chance to relax or find respite for themselves.

* Many employers express an interest in learning about caregiving support that could be made available to their employees.