Balancing Work and Caregiving
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According to the Vanier Institute of the Family, 6.1 million Canadians were caregivers to a family member and also worked outside the home. If you’re currently caring for a loved one, chances are you often feel overwhelmed by the difficulty of balancing your responsibilities. You’re not alone.
Path to improved well being
If you are having trouble balancing work with caregiving, there are some things you can do. Here are some tips that may help.
Research employer policies and programs.
Talk with your human resources department and look through your employee manual to determine whether your company has policies in place or benefits available to help you manage your roles. Examples may include the following:
- Through Employment Insurance (EI), you could receive financial assistance that may help you take time away from work to provide care or support to a critically ill or injured person.
- Employee assistance programs help employees deal with problems that might affect their work. Often, these programs include short-term counseling and referrals to services in the community.
- Flex time is a flexible work schedule. You’re probably familiar with the standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday. If your company allows flex time, your employee handbook will usually define a core period of time during which you must be at work (e.g., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). You then create your schedule around these hours. For example, you may choose to work from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Telecommuting allows you to work from another location, such as home, for a set number of hours or days each week.
- Job sharing is when two people are hired on a part-time or reduced-time basis to complete a job normally held by one person.
Talk to your supervisor.
Take some time to think about your company’s policies and what changes would help you better manage your responsibilities. Draft a proposal, then schedule a meeting with your supervisor to talk it over. During the meeting, be honest about your situation and open to any ideas your supervisor may have. Be sure to communicate how the changes you’ve proposed will benefit your employer.
Be an activist.
It’s possible that your company or supervisor might not be able to accommodate your requests. If that’s the case, try not to be upset. Instead, set an example. Work with human resources to help your company’s leaders understand caregivers’ needs. Keep the channels of communication open, and try again after some time has passed.
Things to consider
Plan for times when you need help by making a list of people who are willing to lend a hand. This list might include family members, friends, and temporary care workers. On your list, include phone numbers, the times people are available and the tasks they feel most comfortable doing. Keep a copy of the list with you at all times in case you’re away from home when you need to ask someone for help.
Also, look for help in your community. Community services can include meal delivery, transportation, legal or financial counseling, and home health care services such as physical therapy or nursing.
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