As more parents find themselves also looking after elderly relatives organisations providing childcare support are linking up with those providing elder care or linking the two issues under one umbrella.
According to Working Families’ 2018 Modern Families Index, almost 25% of parents in full-time employment are also caregivers to an elderly relative or adult who requires assistance and that 28% of caregivers spend more than 10 hours supporting elderly relatives each week. Some 69% of respondents suggested that it was more ‘acceptable’ to take time off for childcare as opposed to requesting leave to care for an adult needing care and a study by Carers UK shows one in five individuals who care for another adult are forced to give up work altogether.
There has been sporadic coverage of the so-called ‘sandwich generation’ and an increasing number of employers have developed policies for carers. As people start families later in life, the chances of them also having elder care issues increases so it makes sense to link the two in terms of support provided.
There has also been a growing interest in shared care facilities, particularly in the US. This involves elder care homes being attached or linked to childcare facilities. The idea is that old and young can bring new energy, knowledge and enthusiasm to each others’ lives. A Channel 4 documentary covered a research project which introduced six nursery children to an adult day care facility. This intergenerational approach is one that is also being taken up by employers who are looking at how they cater to the needs of people at different parts of the life cycle.
Care support is a critical part of this. In addition to flexible working and carer policies, employers are looking at how they can provide care advice and support. Organisations such as My Family Care, for instance, provide employers with emergency back-up care for employees who need both childcare or home carers at the last minute or when their care arrangements break down.
Earlier this month home care provider Helping Hands announced a partnership with childcare provider Bright Horizons. Helping Hands’ support ranges from regular home visits to full-time live-in carers and/or assistants.
Helping Hands CEO Tim Lee stated: “Caregiving is often complex and can come with a certain amount of unpredictability, especially when it’s for an elderly relative who is living with a condition like dementia. As the Index illustrates, almost three quarters of caregivers need a job with some flexibility so they can continue to manage their family’s growing responsibilities.”
Director of Employer Partnerships at Bright Horizons, Denise Priest, adds: “There’s never been a more important time to take action on this important topic and shift the workplace culture to one that is supportive of all caring responsibilities.”