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Communication Tips for Employee Eldercare Situations

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As an employer, you may feel that your employee’s personal life is just that – private. But if your staffer is a family caregiver, it could be helpful to know what they are facing.

Majorities of respondents in a survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead® network, report caring for an older adult has put a strain on multiple aspects of their lives including:

  • Finances (60 percent)
  • Physical and mental health (74 percent and 81 percent, respectively)
  • Career (65 percent)
  • Ability to manage work-life balance (83 percent)

“Caring for a senior loved one touches almost every aspect of a caregiver’s life. When employers have a greater understanding of their employee’s caregiving responsibilities, commitments and obligations, they are better equipped to provide the appropriate workplace supports so employees can effectively manage family and work ,” said Nora Spinks, CEO, The Vanier Institute of the Family.

You’ll never know if you don’t ask! Here are some tips on creating a supportive environment for open communication:

Straight Talk: Start by simply opening the door to the conversation. Research shows that nearly half of Canada’s population has provided care at some point in their lives*. But not everyone is comfortable telling their employer about their personal life, so it may sometimes be up to the employer to ask the right questions if they’re concerned.

Reframe the Conversation: Add in a question during your employee’s evaluations or one-on-one meetings that discuss their responsibilities outside the office. Many times caregivers do not identify themselves as caregivers; by asking this question you are not only opening up avenues to help them, you are helping them to see they are, in fact, a caregiver.

Create an Open-Door Policy: Let your employees know you are there for them to talk about their needs. This type of support could increase employee productivity and commitment to the organization.


Supporting Family Caregivers in the Workplace is Good Business


*Janet Fast, “Caregiving for Older Adults with Disabilities: Present Costs, Future Challenges,” Institute for Research on Public Policy Study (December 2015).

Last revised: May 31, 2017

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