By Darren Michel, Assistant Manager – Claims & Medical Underwriting, Generali UK Employee Benefits
April has come and gone. And that elusive Social Care Green Paper has been kicked down the road yet again. The provision and funding of care for the elderly represents an ongoing challenge in our ageing society. It’s a challenge that is all too real for the c600 people a day that quit work to look after older and disabled relatives every day, according to statistics from Carers UK. In recognition, the charity recently called for better employment rights for carers. So, what can you – as an employer – do right now to help take the strain?
What’s the latest?
The government has now missed its fifth deadline for its much-awaited Green Paper on social care funding after it first revealed its intention to publish the report more than two years ago.
In its absence, the Centre for Policy Studies, a think tank, published a report at the end of April entitled Fixing the Care Crisis. In this report Damian Green MP puts forward a proposal that social care should copy the state pension with a nationally funded model - a flat rate level of support for all - topped up with private funding, in the shape of an annuity or insurance policy, for those who want more expensive care.
In the meantime, families are doing their best to shoulder the burden.
Almost 5 million workers are now juggling their paid job with caring for a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill: this represents an increase of 2 million since census figures began in 2011, says Carers UK.
Remote but not removed
Andrew Gething, Managing Director at Morgan Ash, adds that where people live and work some distance from their parents, as is so often the case these days, the challenge is multiplied. This is especially the case where an elderly relative is unexpectedly hospitalised and the family are expected to take over caring responsibilities on their release from hospital.
He adds that with stretched social care services on a nationwide scale, there is a place for employer support.
“Employees trying to provide assistance and care to parents who live remotely can be a great stress. It may involve taking days off work to travel back to the family home, just to meet with care agencies, or simply to change the battery in the remote control.”
Gething suggests that employers should look into what’s available at no extra cost as part of their existing employee benefits. Group Income Protection, for example, often includes Eldercare Support Services with free access for the employee and their dependants to a range of services, such as:
Access online or over the phone to experts, such as: lawyers, independent financial advisers and accredited counsellors for support from bereavement counselling to personal debt management and health information (including mobility aids);
Guidance over the phone from independent health and care experts on support available, plus help in finding a specialist for a specific medical case or condition;
Home-based assessment after an unplanned, overnight stay in hospital by a registered Occupational Therapist or nurse experienced in eldercare;
Unbiased support and guidance from experienced nurses in locating care homes and care services in the home tailored to need, plus sign-posting to local self-help groups and navigation through the complexity of NHS and Social Services.
“For employees, this kind of support provides a package for their loved ones that is highly valued, plus it can save days off work and distraction at work by reducing the emotional stress due to worry about parental care,” adds Gething.
Shared from HR Grapevine.