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Andrew Smith

HCR

Operations Director

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Eldercare – what it is and why it’s becoming increasingly important in the workplace

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It seems like common sense to recognise that those working for us might need a little extra support to help them with added pressures at home.

Finding new ways to retain our best workers isn’t rocket science. For many, childcare facilities or vouchers make an excellent employee benefit. But what about eldercare?

We’re all living longer – and that means many of us have elderly loved ones who demand more of our time now than they did ten years ago. The moral frustration of having to prepare mentally for a challenging day in the office, whilst thinking about how your mum or dad are going to find their way into the doctors or hospital for blood tests – or worse still, how they’ll get through the day without you – makes for an anxiety-ridden existence.

As employers we know this. We have a growing number of colleagues facing the rigours of caring for an elderly loved one whilst doing their utmost to make it into work and look like nothing’s amiss.

So how can we provide support when they need it most?

Introducing the concept of eldercare into the work environment.

More and more people are finding themselves in a situation where their elderly parent or parents can no longer cope independently in their own home. It is not something people like to think or talk about – so planning for this kind of situation is quite rare. 

And, when it does happen, many find it difficult to ask for help. They see colleagues breezing into work without a care in the world – and admitting they’re struggling to cope can be stressful. They feel it could be viewed as a weakness.

Are they right – are they dispensable?

Absolutely not. In truth, businesses need them. They’re good at juggling, determined to meet their obligations, both at work and at home. And they don’t give up easily.

So how, as employers, do you offer help to those who don’t ask for it? You communicate. The culture of any organisation dictates the way we all think. Twenty years ago, the concept of childcare was viewed as an irritation by many – particularly for those without children. Now, it is an accepted – nay demanded – part of any UK human resources policy.

Anyone applying for a job will know whether their prospective employer offers childcare. It is practically thrown at them as a positive benefit. They’ll be able to come into work and drop their offspring into a purpose-built onsite nursery, not 100 metres from their desks. Who could refuse a job within a company that offers that? It provides them with reassurance that their new bosses will care and support them – and that nothing is too much trouble. Childcare provision ranks alongside pay and leave when it comes to choosing who to work for.

Now it’s time to do the same with eldercare.

Bring in the experts.

Business leaders don’t look after their employees’ children whilst they are at work. They call on the experience and expertise of fully qualified and regulated childminders to do the job for them. And there are similar schemes in place for eldercare.

It is possible to introduce eldercare as an employee benefit – giving workers access to helplines and specialists who can advise on and manage the needs of elderly relatives. These schemes are comprehensive and look after everything – from talking through the possibility of extra care at home, to discussing the stressful fact that parents can no longer cope independently and may need to move into residential care.

Eldercare services also provide access to qualified financial advisors, specialising in care fees planning and the financial affairs of older people as well as hands on support when dealing with property and personal possessions. And solicitors for the elderly stand by to ensure all legal safeguards are met.

Let’s start at the very beginning.

When the recruitment advert goes in. Highlight the fact that you offer eldercare as a specific business benefit. Make sure it’s right up there with the other sought-after extras. Your candidates need to understand how important it is to you that they feel fully supported and looked after.

You want the best talent and you want them to feel they can focus fully on the task at hand when they’re with you.

Employee engagement

Often, it’s colleagues who notice something isn’t quite right. More times than not, they’re aware of those around them who are in the midst of looking after ill or infirm relatives – even when those people are doing their best to hide it. So they are in a prime position to help. If they’re aware of the support available, they’ll act as the perfect advert.

Making sure everyone within your organisation – not just those you suspect need help – know about what’s on offer is crucial. Educate, not only your managers but your entire staff about how you have made the effort to source and implement eldercare as part of your HR offering.

Eventually, not too far in the distant future, we’ll treat eldercare as a run of the mill benefit. It won’t be unique or special – but it will be an incredibly valuable approach to sourcing and then retaining the very best available talent. 

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Andrew Smith

Operations Director

Read more from Andrew Smith
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