Caregiver Issues: Elder Care and the Workplace
As Canadians age, more and more work-aged adults are finding themselves juggling their work obligations with family obligations related to caring for elderly relatives and loved ones. Eighty percent of the elder care in Canada is provided by family members, and about 60% of caregivers are women – women who often have children of their own still living at home, and are balancing motherhood with careers and caring for an older parent, parent-in-law, or other elderly relative. How are businesses responding to the new family obligations affecting their workforce? Here’s a look at how the balance between elder care and work is unfolding in Canada.
Canadian Aging Research Network (CARNET)
CARNET is part of the University of Guelph. Launched in 1990, CARNET is busy researching how Canadians are aging and who is taking care of the new waves of the nation’s elderly. Recent research by CARNET’s Work and Eldercare Research Group highlights important differences between childcare and eldercare when it comes to workplace policies:
Several family members are often involved in eldercare
Eldercare frequently involves making complex medical decisions
Substitute care is often not available when it comes to eldercare
Creative Ways to Balance Work and Eldercare
As government, business, and labour begin to re-examine how to best support employees who are caregivers for an elderly loved one, some innovative businesses are already finding ways to provide caregiver support.
In Calgary, for example, a company called Kids & Company has already expanded their childcare services to include eldercare services, as well. Kids & Company started as a high-end childcare service, but soon saw that stressed-out moms and dads were caring not only for the kids, but also for their own moms and dads. The University of Calgary has teamed up with Kids & Company to offer its employees both childcare and eldercare services — enabling employees, the University hopes, to have the peace of mind that allows them to fully focus on their work.
Will the University of Calgary’s generous guaranteed eldercare program for its employees catch on in the rest of Canada? Time – and perhaps age – will tell.