How can companies support for carers – two-thirds of them are women
The function of carer generally falls in most geographies, to women. And predictably support for carers in thin on the ground. Research from the OECD across the 16 OECD countries suggests that close to two-thirds of informal carers aged over 50 years, are women. This tends to decline with advancing years, when male carers tend to take a stronger role.
Throughout the OECD, more than 10% of adults is involved in informal, typically unpaid, caregiving, defined as “providing help with personal care or basic activities of daily living (ADL) to people with functional limitations.” Read: Caregiver: an increasing role for Boomer women. There is no clear geographic distribution in the rate of caregiving: certain southern European countries have among the highest percentages (Italy, Spain) but Greece ranks among the lowest rates together with Denmark and Sweden. This is partly due to definitions of care giving.
“There are approximately 314 million people in the U.S. today. According to AARP, of that number, roughly 42 million were unpaid caregivers that provided $450 billion worth of unpaid care to adult relatives and friends in 2009. This is care that we, collectively, would have had to pay for otherwise…..In other words, today about 13% of the U.S. population provides some type of unpaid family caregiving.”
Policies that companies can offer to support carers
In the U.K., research from C.I.P.D. indicates that few companies currently have a grasp of how many individuals perform a caring function in their workforce, with a mere 34% providing policies which offer support for carers. Here are 5 ways that companies can improves situations for their carers.
- Create and commit to a working carers’ support policy, to grow an environment of compassion and understanding.
- Extend practical work practises such as flexi-time and remote working.
- Provide access to specialists at the work place who can offer expert information in matters relating to financial support, health and welfare arrangements, housing and legal information, as well as external pastoral support.
- Provide counselling and coaching for carers themselves to develop coping mechanism and reduce feelings of isolation.
- Offer short term unpaid leave and returnships for carers who have taken a career break to support a family member.
For carers it’s extremely important to communicate circumstances early to their employers, rather than waiting until the situation is unsustainable.Many carers fear a discrimination and cover up their circumstances, only declaring them when there is no alternative, or a crisis. As more and more people are caught up in looking after an aging population, companies will be increasingly called upon to offer vital support for carers as part of their H.R. policy.
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