Has your institution been working to meet current best practices in Senior Care?
If so, you’ve likely spent a lot of time in selecting the best vendor to offer subsidized home back up care, and senior care planning consultations with licensed geriatric care specialists. You've probably held information sessions on Medicaid, Medicare and other insurance policies. You're working to give your staff and faculty generous PTO, work flexibility and dependent care FSAs. Your education and referral services are in place, and you’re spreading the word as much as you can to your employee communities about their senior care benefits and how to use them.
Even with all of these programs in place - or soon-to-be implemented - is there anything more you can do to help your employees better navigate and better cope with the care of their aging loved ones? Without adding costs to your budget?
Here are eleven fresh – and cost-free - tips to elevate your institution beyond best practices.
- Designate private areas or closed-door conference rooms with dedicated blocks of time where employees can sign up for slots to Skype or FaceTime with aging relatives during the work day.
- Expand your brown bag lunch, seminar or webinar series to include a prevention-minded program that offers employees ways to help guide their aging loved ones NOW with strategies to maintain their independence as long as possible.
- Connect individuals through an optional, one-on-one "buddy" program that provides real-life mentoring and practical advice from seasoned caregivers to those new to facing the demands of senior care.
- Educate your deans, administrators and other institutional leaders on the senior care crisis and train them to be care ambassadors, proactively educating their corresponding departments about the solutions offered. Update them quarterly through a simple email newsletter, and/or schedule an open house where they can drop by your office and learn more in person.
- Stay on top of the leading studies, news and best practices emerging from the association leaders in senior care: The National Alliance for Caregiving, the Aging Life Care Association, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, and the Alzheimer’s Association. Subscribe to their newsletters or blogs, or set up Google Alerts to receive news related to their current initiatives. Their work and resources also make for fresh content for your own newsletters and seminar editorial calendar, and provide great opportunities for guest speakers - virtual or in-person.
- Target ALL generations of your employee community (not just the Sandwich Generation or Boomers) when communicating about and marketing your senior care benefits and resources. Not only does it build awareness and promote understanding about the care issues most of us will eventually face, but you’ll help the younger generations think about care in a preventive, prepared way vs. a reactive scramble. Plus, it plays a role in sweetening the retention deal for those thinking about what they really want from an employer later in life.
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- Connect with your peers and thought leaders at annual events offered by CUWFA and CUPA-HR, as well as through social media forums, including LinkedIn and Twitter. Share what’s working for your institution in just a few short sentences, or simply spread a link to an enlightening article or piece of research. Check out this great list of 15 Twitter Feeds for professionals in Higher Education from HigherEdJobs for some ideas on which groups to follow.
- Look to your employees utilizing senior care benefits for ideas related to a community service, volunteer or social awareness initiative that is close to their heart, and consider sponsoring it departmentally, or on a larger scale across your institution. Maybe it’s participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, or simply contacting a nearby senior nursing care facility and posting their volunteer opportunities at your institution.
- Organize a seasonal or holiday concert for caregivers and their aging loved ones (and anyone else in the campus community) to attend, compliments of your institution's band or orchestra students. Donate ticket proceeds to fund refreshments (or caregiver support baskets – see below) for those attending senior care support groups throughout the year.
- Build your ROI arsenal with qualitative and quantitative feedback from those participating in senior care benefits programs. Select benefits providers with tools that automatically track engagement and utilization rates. Save every testimonial in a simple Excel file and scan in those feedback forms from seminar participants into a PDF. Regularly survey your employees using a free, simple online survey tool like Google Forms. And read this great report authored by the AARP and ReACT about building the case for ROI on employee caregiving benefits.
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- Help your caregiving employees take better care of themselves. Remember that caregivers suffer from higher rates of mental, emotional and physical stress, with more than one-third providing intense care to others while suffering from an illness themselves. Plan a free back massage drop-in event for those utilizing senior care benefits, where students training to become licensed massage therapists can gain required practice hours. Set up a lending library with the best work-life integration and caregiving advice books. Provide a caregiver’s support basket after an employee engages in setting up senior care. Fill it with give-aways and perks items you might already have on hand in the HR or work-life integration office, like university-branded mugs, shirts or note pads, a senior care support book, or free movie passes, discounted tickets to museums, amusement parks or other area attractions.
HR Leaders Also Read:
- It's Time to Get Serious About Senior Care
- 5 Signs Senior Care is a Source of Stress for Employees
- 5 Ways Getting Personal Improves Employee Engagement
- Is Senior Care the New Child Care?
- 30 Cities Where Employees Need Senior Care Benefits Right Now