ARTICLE | THE TIME FOR CAREGIVER SUPPORT
Now is the Moment to Support Your Working Family Caregivers
Ai-jen Poo is a nationally recognized policy advocate, an expert on elder and family care, and gender equality, and is the author of the celebrated book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America. Her work as the Director and Co-founder of Caring Across Generations and President, Director and Co-founder of the National Domestic Workers Alliance has landed her on Fortune’s 50 World’s Greatest Leaders and Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
She unequivocally believes now is the moment to support working caregivers.
This is a unique moment in time. While the number of caregivers grows, the awareness and conversation on the topic is more prevalent than ever before.
“… We now have the eyes and ears of everyone. They cannot unsee what we all just saw in the pandemic, and this is our biggest opportunity of a generation.”
As we continue to understand the effects of the pandemic on our workplaces, it’s more clear than ever that working caregivers need comprehensive and reliable support.
Pre-pandemic, 20% of employees were in a caregiving role, but as of November 2022, more than 56% of employees have care responsibilities outside of their full-time jobs. And as options for care support began to shut down– from daycare centers to nursing homes– “whatever ways that people were patching together, their caregiving supports completely collapsed like a house of cards”, Ai-jen said.
So, how can we use this momentum to truly change the way we think about and support working caregivers, and ultimately, create change that makes for more efficient and productive workplaces?
“…There is that adage that, you know, it takes a village to raise a child. It actually takes a village to care, period. That’s how we should be thinking about it. And that’s how we should be designing for it in the future, I think.”
Alongside Ai-jen, we’re working to redefine caregiving. It is not an experience contained to childcare and eldercare, though those have traditionally been thought of as most common. Benefits should address every life stage- regardless of age, life stage, care condition, or culture.
We also have to redefine the way we think about caregiving support. It’s become clear that the traditional approach to supporting working caregivers is in need of innovation. While popular point solutions like backup care and 1-1 coaching were successful in bringing caregiving to the forefront, they aren’t comprehensive enough to meet the needs of today’s families or employers.
Today’s support solutions must be truly inclusive of every employee- regardless of age, life stage, care condition, or culture. By investing in platforms that prioritize inclusivity, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, employers will be better equipped to meet the needs of the increasing number of employees who are facing caregiving situations.
Leaders like Ai-jen are working to finally bridge the gaps in support for caregivers in both the private and public sectors. While big picture changes take time, there is change that can be made today – to take advantage of this unique moment in time. Today’s leaders and innovative organizations have the opportunity to elevate caregiving, and to offer innovative solutions that will truly build infrastructures of support reliable and sustainable for the next generation of family caregivers.
“The awakening is still happening, and now is the time to really try to jump through that awakening and turn it into action and policy change.”
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