Employed Caregivers: When Work & Caregiving Collide


Originally published at www.allaboutestates.ca on February 3, 2015:

Caregiving and Work is not a new issue. Caregivers have been juggling work and care for some time. This has been a common refrain from those who consider themselves part of the Sandwich Generation.

The Caregiving and Work project heralded by the Vanier Institute for the Family has been gathering research for several years. Following the 2014 Budget, “the Government of Canada launched the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan (CECP) to explore ways to help employee caregivers participate as fully as possible in the workforce. The CECP is one of a range of activities that the Government of Canada and others are currently undertaking to support caregivers. These include tax measures, income replacement through employment insurance, and the provision of targeted programs for caregivers in populations under federal jurisdiction” (Employment and Social Development Canada).”

The Panel consulted over 100 employers from across Canada before releasing its findings and insights contained in the report. On January 20, 2015, to the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), announced the release of the Employer Panel for Caregivers’ report called – When Work and Caregiving Collide: How Employers Can Support Their Employees Who Are Caregivers. The Employer Panel for Caregivers (the panel) is comprised of industry leaders from small, medium and large-sized businesses, as well as expert advisors on caregiving.

The Panel reported on Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey GSS, 2012 profile of Canadian Caregivers who stated that 35% of the Canadian workforce reported that they were providing unpaid care to a family member or friend.

The Employer Panel findings showed: ‘The majority (74%) of caregivers provide nine or less hours of care per week. However, 16% provided 10-29 hours of care, while 10% provided a very intensive level of 30 hours or more. Not surprisingly, the more care a person provides, the greater impact it has on their ability to work. The survey showed, for example, that 38% of caregivers who provided 20 or more hours of care per week reduced their regular working hours, compared to 25% of those who were providing less than 20 hours.” The Employer Panel’s conclusions are worthy of comment here as we close.

“Caregiving is an issue that will affect most Canadians at some point in their lives. As our population ages and labour force growth declines, the need to support employees with caregiving responsibilities will grow.”

”Helping employees balance work with their caregiving responsibilities will have a positive impact on the Canadian economy by decreasing costs, such as impact on job performance, absenteeism and productivity, for their employers”.

There is much to be done and this is a topic important to many of us. The full report can be accessed on the government website. In my work with the RBC Advice Centre, we produced a video on Balancing Work and Care, which I invite you to visit for some practical tips.

Lesson Learned: Finally, employers are coming to the table to support their employees. Reach out and ask for assistance.

Legal Capacity, Decision Making & Guardianship


Originally posted at allaboutestates.ca on October 27, 2014:

The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) has undertaken a project to examine and review Ontario’s laws related to legal capacity, decision –making and guardianship. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending one of their focus groups. Spokespersons from various groups were there representing those with autism, mental health issues and the hearing impaired, to name a few.

While the disability groups may have different issues, there was more in common than not.

The key areas included issues regarding protecting and enhancing autonomy, who can act as a substitute decision maker; preventing and addressing abuse or misuse of powers of attorney; supports to access the law as well as larger issues relating to lack of information and understanding and system monitoring, transparency and dispute resolution.

In my work with seniors and their families, the same issues apply. We are dealing with clients who may or may not be capable and their Powers of Attorney who hold the title but may not understand the implications. It is complicated.

However as more and more of us are living longer and with so many health issues that can compromise ability in communication and in making decisions, it is a needed and necessary project. I am glad to have had an opportunity to participate and I look forward to reading their recommendations.

For more information, please visit the LCO’s website at http://www.lco-cdo.org/en/older-adults-final-report-framework and http://www.lco-cdo.org/en/disabilities-final-report.

Young Carers: The Canadian Version


Originally posted at allaboutestates.ca on September 30, 2014 by Audrey Miller

Statistics Canada released last week (Sept 24, 2014) the latest data on Young Canadians providing care.

This information uses data from the 2012 General Social Survey on Caregiving and Care Receiving. In 2012, 27% of young Canadians between the ages of 15 and 29 provided some form of care to a family member. Grandparents were the primary care recipients. The study found that young carers typically spend about three hours a week providing assistance.

Over the years I have been particularly concerned about Young Carers and the need to have their stories shared so that they can receive the support and acknowledgement that is deserved. I partnered with the Vanier Institute for the Family and was the Executive Producer of “Lucky, The Young Carer Rap” video which highlights the many talents of Tricky P (aka Patrick Stephens) who raps his story about caring for his two grandmothers. His tale is poignant. The statistics highlighted in the Vanier study are sad. His story reflects the researchers from the University of British Columbia who surveyed high school students in Vancouver and found that 12% self identified as being primary caregivers, meaning they answered yes to the question: “Do you spend any time taking care of an adult in your family because they cannot care for themselves?” (Charles, Marshall and Stainton, 2010). This number cut across gender and ethnicity lines, with almost equal parts male and female youth identifying as caregivers. The mean age of the young carers in the study was 14 and just over two-thirds were providing care to either a parent or a grandparent. (Transition Summer 2012, The Vanier Institute of the Family, The Elephant in the Room: Young Carers in Canada, Miller). Statistics Canada also reported that the type of help provided by these young carers was primarily meal prep and cleaning (66%) and providing transportation (66%). The study also found that young carers spent a median of 2 hours per week caring for a grandparent, while taking care of a parent required around 5 hours of weekly help.

Young carers are out there, you just have to look. For more information on supporting young carers, please visit the Young Carers Program.

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