Working and Caregiving
The Impact on Employees and Employers
Rhode Island has an aging workforce that is caring for aging family members. Addressing the needs of working caregivers is critical to the growth of RI businesses.
Our fractured health care and long-term services and supports system increases the demands on employees. Rhode Island is striving to be a business friendly state. One important part of being business friendly is being family friendly. Caregivers provide billions of dollars in unpaid care every year. The loss of a critical employee due to caregiving responsibilities could be catastrophic to a business.
The “2015 AARP Caregiving Survey of Rhode Island Registered Voters Age 45-Plus on Living Independently” reports that two thirds of registered voters age 45 and older are currently, or have previously been a caregiver for a loved one. More than half the caregivers were women who were employed. The average care recipient is 80 years old. Respondents identified that the three most important Community Services to help remain at home are hospice, visiting nurses and well-trained certified home healthcare providers. According to the US Census Bureau there are 15,877 homes with three or more generations. In less than 2 years (by 2020) 21.3% of Rhode Island population will be over the age of 60. National data indicates there is, and will continue to be, a shortage of homecare providers.
Although Rhode Island has undertaken several efforts to train professional and para-professional caregivers, the need currently outpaces the workforce availability leaving much of the caregiving on family and friends of Seniors.
- According to the Home Care Association of America and Global Coalition on Aging report “Caring for America’s Seniors: The Value of Home Care” (2016) 40% of Medicare recipients over the age of 65 need assistance every day.
- The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Policy Institute found that 25% of family caregivers are millennials and 50% are under the age of 50. (Caregiving in the US 2015, page 18).
- Women and Caregiving: Facts and Figures, a report by the Family Caregiver Alliance, finds that the typical caregiver is a 49 year old employed woman who provides 20 hours of care to her mother each week.
According to the “MetLife Caregiving Cost Study: Productivity Losses to U.S. Business” employers lose an estimated $17.1 and $33.6 billion dollars due to absenteeism, lack of presenteeism, crisis management and reduced work schedules for full-time employees who are also caregivers. The Society for Human Resource Management’s 2011 Employee Benefits survey has shown a steady decrease in the number of employers with elder care programs.
Rhode Island is one of 3 states with paid family leave. The sandwich generation has the ability to take time off for their spouse, children and their parents. This can leave the caregiver torn between responsibilities at home and work stay classy. When a parent is ill or needs to go to the doctor the production line doesn’t stop, the phones still ring, business goes on. Many opt to reduce their work schedule, decline promotions or leave employment completely. The loss of employees can leave employers unable to meet their customer’s needs.
If you are a working caregiver ask your employer if there are policies in place if you need to tend to your loved one during business hours. Find out if your Employee Assistance Plan offers guidance on eldercare. Is working from home a flexible schedule possible. Find out now before you are in a crisis.