Why employers should consider adding home-care benefits

'As the war on talent continues, how we support these folks will be a huge differentiator'

Why employers should consider adding home-care benefits

Home-care benefits — or “caregiver-relief benefits” — could become much more crucial as the sandwich generation moves further through the workforce, says an expert.

“There’s lost productivity due to caregiving commitments, specifically for older adults, and these are for people in their prime-earning years, typically between 45 to 55, and it’s really challenging for them out there,” says Chenny Xia, CEO of Gotcare, a self-directed home-care provider in Toronto, that offers coverage across Canada.

“Imagine someone who has two teenage kids, and a mother with dementia at the same time. On top of that, she can’t even get her mom on a waitlist for publicly funded senior care.”

Loss of productivity

A 2020 study by the Vanier Institute pegged the annual cost of productivity loss for these employers at $5.5 billion but many employers are not completely buying in and instead offering only flexibility so employees can handle caregiving responsibilities, according to Xia, which is not really enough.

“The challenge with flexibility is it’s very vague, and it puts a lot of onus on the worker to find solutions.”

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Instead, employers would do well to add these benefits to the overall package, and help shift some of that onus back to insurers, she says.

“Unfortunately, because finding formal care for their loved ones is such a challenging landscape right now, they end up… in this very strange situation between the two because, basically, the work team becomes frustrated and the workers burn out in the process.”

Missing benefit

With the health-care system still reeling from the effects of COVID and as this cohort ages, adding home-care benefits will be more necessary, she says.

“It’s not unprecedented by any means. It’s just specifically a benefit that’s missing, especially given our aging population mixed with just our broader health crisis.”

Providing these benefits would greatly help a segment of the working population, says Xia, and it;s incumbent for employers to have challenging talks with service providers.

“I would argue that [employers] should be putting more pressure on insurance companies to come up with an offering because employers can’t be expected to administratively and operationally offer this to their workers,” she says.

Career advancement and worker retention are also important to keep in mind.

“It’s [about employees] reflecting on ‘How am I being supported and not being supported?’ and as the war on talent continues, how we support these folks will be a huge differentiator,” says Xia.

“It demonstrates as an employer that you care.”

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Co-pay options are a great way to enter the home-care benefits pool, without providing too much of a financial burden on the organization, according to Xia.

“As the insurance plans are developed and matured, there can be data similar to how, for example, in dental coverage, you can get 50-per-cent coverage, 70-per-cent, 100-per-cent coverage. Similar levels of plans, or some tiers of plans can be offered to workers.”

For HR, the time is right to get the ball rolling, she says.

“Start to have conversations with your employees who could benefit from something like this, be in conversation with them. Have them come in and co-create part of the solution with you.”


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