Perfect storm brewing if eldercare is not addressed in the workplace

RedArc is warning that a woeful lack of eldercare support for employees and the current recruitment crisis in the domiciliary sector has created a perfect storm, meaning employers risk losing staff who have responsibilities for looking after elderly or frail family members.

Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc says: “Whether care is required urgently or is a decision taken over a longer period of time, it can be hugely emotional for all involved. Family conflicts are not unusual and employees can feel unable to juggle both work and home life.
“We often support employees through this emotional time but we’re currently witnessing an additional level of stress as families cannot access the support they need.”

RedArc highlights the care-related issues that employees are currently facing:

1. The shortfall in staff means many care homes are having to turn down new clients, leaving employees facing the prospect of caring for their elderly relatives themselves.
2. Some employees are concerned that the current vacancies in the sector may impact the quality of care that can be delivered and so may opt to care for their relative at home.
3. Similarly, the prospect of Covid-enforced care home lockdowns is understandably leaving some employees reluctant to choose this route for elderly relatives.
4. At-home care is facing the same staff shortages as care homes and so employees cannot even access support for family members within their own home both on a short-term basis such as on discharge from hospital and long-term
5. Even when care is not required, employees with elderly parents often find themselves spending huge amounts of time making appointments on their behalf with various agencies such as GPs, District Nurses, dieticians etc.

Christine Husbands continued: “Arranging care can be hugely challenging and stressful for employees and unfortunately the current recruitment crisis in the industry is only exacerbating things. Employees simply have less choice for their relatives at present and that impacts their ability to manage their responsibilities at work and at home.”

RedArc explains that eldercare support for employees needs to become more mainstream as not only are people living longer in general but the workforce is also ageing, so more people will be simultaneously in work but also needing to care for elderly relatives. In addition, with state support for care increasingly difficult to access, employees are more likely to need to stay in work to be able to fund additional expenditure such as carers for family members or to save for their own care at a later date. Paradoxically, staying in work becomes increasingly difficult without the right support, at a time when people financially need to work to fund any eldercare.

Types of eldercare support required
Eldercare support is multi-faceted, combining the practical aspects of selecting a care provider, the financial aspect of funding that care, and the emotional stress of acknowledging the waning independence of a loved one. Other requirements may include accessing products, services and verified local providers for home adaptations and supportive technology; health advice on chronic conditions; as well as legal issues around the sale of a home and powers of attorney.

Employers need to ensure the eldercare support they offer not only empowers their employees to make informed decisions for the individual needing care but also provides mental and physical support for the employee themselves. In addition, it is important for employers to appreciate the ongoing stress of having elderly care responsibilities and therefore flexibility such as homeworking and working patterns can help the employee to manage work effectively alongside. Access to reliable sources of information on local support services, and guidance for their own health is also extremely important.

Christine Husbands said: “Eldercare is an extremely complex area and requires specialist support. If employers do not step up and improve their offering, they risk losing staff who cannot manage the dual responsibilities of work and home. By supporting staff from the outset on these issues, employees will be able to successfully navigate the care system and also remain productive in the workplace.”