Eldercare as an employee benefit

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With so many employees feeling the pressure of juggling work and the need to provide care for loved ones at home, it seems reasonable for businesses to provide a little extra support.

That, coupled with the need to retain the very best workers, leaves many employers seeking new and innovative ways to help out. Childcare vouchers and nurseries are now commonplace among many organisations, but what about eldercare provision? 

With the UK’s ageing population, many of us have elderly relatives who demand more of our time than they did 10 or 20 years ago. Going to work knowing you’ll be leaving your mum or dad to fend for themselves is a stressful process. How will they manage without assistance? It’s an anxious challenge for even the most level-headed employee. 

We as employers and HR professionals are fully aware of this. We have a growing number of colleagues facing the rigours of caring for an elderly loved one while doing their utmost to make it into work and look like nothing’s amiss. 

Finding yourself in a situation where your elderly parent(s) can no longer cope independently in their own home is not something people like to think or talk about, so planning for these circumstances is quite rare.  

When it does happen, asking for help is difficult and awkward. Many feel they could be dispensable and are wary of showing any signs of weakness. We all know our businesses need these workers the most. 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 do you help those who don’t ask? Communicating is a good start – and introducing an open culture where the availability of eldercare is almost a given. Just 20 years ago, the idea of childcare was an ideal, but certainly not commonplace. Now it is high on the list in any UK human resources policy.

Introducing eldercare as an employee benefit is relatively straightforward – give 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. Solicitors for the elderly stand by to ensure all legal safeguards are met. 

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

One day, not too far in the distant future, I think eldercare will be viewed as a run of the mill benefit. Not special in any way, but an incredibly valuable approach to retaining the best talent around.

Andrew Smith is operations director at relocation specialist HCR

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