Even though more and more companies have started to offer employee caregiver benefits, home care agencies aren’t always part of the equation.
For example, companies like Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) and Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) have turned to Care.com, a move that’s generated criticism from some industry leaders. They say verified home care providers — rather than third-party caregiver matching services — are the responsible choice to provide the respite care benefit designed to keep employees from missing work.
Meanwhile, one home care franchise, Home Instead Senior Care, is taking it upon itself to educate employers about those choices.
While the Omaha, Nebraska-based provider is supportive of companies enacting policies to support family caregivers, not all programs are created equal, according to Mary Alexander, vice president of strategic partnerships and health care integration at Home Instead.
“Certainly with awareness comes growth in the industry,” Alexander told Home Health Care News in an email. “But what’s important here is that awareness opens [family] caregivers’ eyes to what resources are available. And when they are aware of options, they are able to make informed choices – such as a reputable home care provider.”
Home Instead created its Daughters in the Workplace program in 2017 to serve as a starting place for those resources, supporting both sons and daughters who are family caregivers.
In addition to providing educational tools on the Daughters in the Workplace website, the program has also given Home Instead a platform on which it can work with companies, whether that means opening dialogue with HR departments or through company-wide lunch-and-learns.
“Elder care and caregiving is what child care used to be in the 1980s, when people didn’t talk about it at work,” Jackie Froendt, vice president of human resources for Home Instead, told HHCN. “We’ve provided some really low-cost or no-cost solutions for [employers and employees]. Our guidance has really been to make it a safe environment to have that open communication.”
Already, the program has made a name for itself, yielding calls from companies asking what Daughters in the Workplace is all about and how their organizations can use it.
“Sometimes it’s just a conversation with me talking about what we do,” Froendt said. “We’re very open and willing to have those conversations because [helping employers offer caregiver benefits] is the right thing to do.”
One such company Home Instead has counseled is Creighton University, also based in Omaha. In fact, the two organizations are partnering to give Creighton employees free access to Home Instead’s tools, advice and experts to guide them through the experience of caring for a senior loved one.
As of now, the company does not offer caregiver benefits in the traditional sense — by subsidizing respite care days for a company’s employees — Froendt said.
But that doesn’t mean their advocacy work isn’t bringing in business.
“There’s not a button that says: ‘Did you hear about us through the Daughters in the Workplace program?’” a spokesperson for Home Instead told HHCN. “But I think we do see overall a definite positive halo effect for Home Instead.”