Caregiving is a special calling. People who take care of others must be specially attuned to human needs. They must be experts in developing relationships, in listening, in communicating — in empathy. Like those who take care of the very young, people who take care of older adults face a unique set of obstacles and challenges.
Employers in the elder-care industry can offer creative, generous benefits to help recruit and retain employees, particularly in the coming years as baby boomers grow older and the need for elder-care employees increases.
Provide Specialized Elder-Care Training
Many people receiving care from home health agencies or in elder-care facilities have dementia. They might have hearing or vision loss, or lack full range of motion. They likely need some support with activities that are part of daily life — from getting out of bed and getting dressed to lifting a fork or cutting food.
Specialized training opportunities tailored to the needs of older adults can help the employees who are caring for them. Virtual reality training, allowing employees to embody an individual they are serving, can provide insight into what it’s like living with certain ailments — and how those issues might cause a person to become frustrated or even combative. By fostering empathy, the right kind of training can allow employees to be more sensitive, compassionate, aware and informed. It also can yield practical insight that enhances care: If a patient only sees through their left eye, understanding this firsthand through virtual reality will help an employee know they should always approach the patient from that side.
Support for the Mind, Body and Spirit
Health care isn’t only about physical health. To support caregivers’ overall well-being, elder-care employers can bolster traditional medical and dental benefits by offering spiritual and mental health support for employees. Having a spiritual care associate on-site not only enhances wellness for elderly patients and their families but is a resource that staff members can rely on when — after long days of listening to and caring for others — they need someone to talk to.
For those times when employees are struggling — whether due to a challenging day at work, the loss of a patient to whom they were attached or stress in their personal lives — employers can provide an employee assistance program. These programs guarantee free, 24/7 confidential access to a professional counselor who can support employees facing issues related to grief, substance use, mental health, or legal, financial or family concerns.
Invest in Professional Development
In the coming years more employees will be needed to take care of the country’s aging population. Employers who invest in recruitment and retention strategies stand to benefit. They can offer generous salary, benefits packages and new employee referral bonuses, allow employees to set their own schedules and provide financial counseling services to help employees manage their money and plan for their future.
Another way employers can invest in the future of their employees is by fostering ongoing professional development opportunities. Because the fields of health care and elder care are always changing, it’s important that employees stay on top of the latest in trends, technologies and treatment advances. It’s equally important that they stay engaged and passionate about their work — or they might burn out. Employers can offer tuition reimbursement so that employees can advance their education and continue to grow professionally.
Winston Benefits is a Benefits Administration, Enrollment, and Communication company. We provide employers with a technology enabled benefit process in order to help communicate, enroll and administer their employee benefit programs while empowering their employees to make better benefit decisions. Contact us to learn more.