New voluntary benefit designed to help caregiver employees
CareGiving.com, an online library of resources for caregivers, has partnered with SeniorGuards, a caregiving solutions provider, to offer a new voluntary employee benefit to help employees manage their familial and professional responsibilities.
SeniorGuards, which relaunched on September 6 as SupportGuards, now offers a caregiving benefit that provides free services, including access to specialized caregiving consultants and free virtual support group meetings to employers. Employees will also have access to Care Angel — an AI-driven mobile app designed to check-in on the family member when the caregiver is unavailable.
“An employee is bringing the stress of a caregiving experience into the workplace,” says Denise Brown, founder of CareGiving.com. “When [employers] support that working family caregiver, you can help minimize that employee’s stress and you also have a more efficient and effective workplace.”
About half of unpaid caregivers work full time outside of the home and many have to take leaves of absence or cut back work hours due to the demands of tending to a family member, LIMRA research shows. A significant portion of employees had to stop working in order to better care for their loved one — about 22% say they voluntarily quit their jobs, 18% had their employment terminated and 13% chose to retire early.
SeniorGuards, now SupportGuards, co-founder Chris Carpino, a 29-year employee benefits industry veteran and a caregiver himself, says his experience in both of these areas led him to seek out an employer-based solution for helping working caregivers manage all of their responsibilities.
Carpino uses Care Angel to stay up to date on his father’s medical needs when he is traveling for work. The mobile app behaves similarly to Siri or Alexa but is designed specifically for caregivers, Carpino says.
When traveling, Carpino set up Care Angel to call his father at a specific time of day to check in and make sure he has eaten, taken medication and ensures there are no emergencies. The app sends Carpino updates on his dad via text.
The caregiving crisis puts employers in a unique position to offer benefits, policies and resources that can ease some of this stress. Some employers have already stepped up. For example, Starbucks launched a new caregiver benefit last year. Amgen and Brinker International, use digital tools to offer caregiving benefits to their workers. But still only 4% of employers offer backup child care services and only 2% offer backup elder care, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management.
As part of SupportGuard’s new offering, participants will be able to upgrade to a premium platform that includes services such as LegalZoom Lifeplan, which provides support from LegalZoom’s 16,000 attorneys. The premium service is subscription based, but paid for by employers. Members will also get unlimited 30-minute consultations with elder law attorneys, two free wills or living trusts and document review.
In the later part of the fall, SupportGuard will add more programs and services including a premium benefit that will help caregivers set up a backup plan for urgent and unexpected situations like a hospitalization or last minute business trip.
“[Employers] know that an employee who is caring for a family member is managing crises,” Brown says. “An employee could be managing a hospitalization and a work project. In order for the business to continue we have to support those working family caregivers and one way to do that is to connect them to professionals like our consultants.”