Fall 2017 Workplace Support for Caregivers

 Caregivers are not looking for handouts. Our jobs are a large part of our identity and of course our source of income. We are looking for solutions to balancing work while meeting increased family obligations.

The Canadian Human Rights Act dictates that when an employee must care for a family member, employers have a legal obligation to accommodate that employee… employees, employers and unions must cooperate to find reasonable and practical solutions. 

The Issue
Support for caregivers is a legitimate and increasing issue in today’s workplace. As the number of seniors grows, so does the need for families to take on increasing responsibility for their care.
•    70% of caregivers work full time. This number has tripled in the last 15 years.
•    35% of employed Canadians are also providing informal care to a family member or friend.
•    By 2026, over 2.4 million Canadians age 65+ will require unpaid continuing care supports
     —up 71 per cent from 2011. By 2046, this number will reach nearly 3.3 million

The Employee’s Responsibility - employees have a responsibility to proactively seek solutions when caregiving impacts their work.
1. Talk to your employer. Be clear and specific about your needs. Be willing to discuss the issues, consider alternatives, and agree to reasonable compromises.
2. Know the supports available to you through the government, Employee Health Benefits and collective agreements.
3. Build a support system with a variety of caregiving options, practice effective time management, and plan ahead for the unexpected.  
4. Practice self-care. Did you know that caregivers experience chronic health conditions twice the rate of general population?

The Employer’s Responsibility - employers have a responsibility to develop supports for caregivers and a culture that encourages employees to use these supports.
The time for caregiver support is now. Governments are changing employment legislation to protect caregivers in the workplace.
The following documents not only outline the case for support but also offer valuable solutions.
1. The Manitoba Caregiver Recognition Act (2011)), the first provincial act of its kind in Canada.  
2. A Guide to Balancing Work and Caregiving Obligations: collaborative approaches for a supportive and well-performing workplace. The Canadian Human Rights Commission, 2014.
3. When Work and Caregiving Collide: How Employers Can Support Their Employees Who Are Caregivers. The report commissioned by the Government of Canada. 2015.

Unions and Professional Associations have a responsibility to provide appropriate supports for members balancing work and care. 

We can spot a Care Aware workplace right away because the program is so visible. We see supports in lunch room posters, in the employee newsletters and company emails.  When a program is visible we know the commitment is there.” Manitoba Caregiver Coalition

Further Reading

Summer 2017 Vacation Time

Where Next? Workshops

I usually hold workshops twice a year, April and November. However, I'm happy accept invitations to give workshops to groups, organizations and workplaces throughout the year. I also enjoy speaking about my caregiving experience and caregiving issues. Contact me at wherenext@shaw.ca.

Vacation Time

Caregivers need holidays. These are times we regenerate.
Find a stand-in, someone to take over your role while you are away. Someone to look after your parents’ basic needs, health and safety. Someone who will give you peace of mind.
Ideally, this will be a close family member. If you have siblings discuss your need for respite with them. Caregiving usually falls to the adult child who lives closest to the parent. Hopefully other family members are willing to support you and help you take a break. If that is not the case, move on to other solutions.
Sometimes all that's needed is a close neighbour or family friend who will drop in and make sure everything is ok. In more serious cases it's worth it to hire a private caregiver.
Many retirement homes in Manitoba offer short term stays.  A lovely residence with meals included can be an excellent option.  Often seniors are not aware that they have become isolated at home and they really enjoy the social life of the residence.  Many who were once reluctant to consider a move change their minds.
Organize your leave. Important information and documents should be accessible. Ideally your parents will have an up-to-date E.R.I.K. kit on the fridge. If a trip to the hospital is necessary, the caregiver or paramedics can just grab it and go.
It is advisable to give notice of your absence to the doctor, the home care case coordinator, the retirement residence or care home. Also you will want to leave instructions for your substitute and emergency contacts. Create letters that you can reuse whenever you are away.

Sometimes we just crave time alone in our own homes. Take a staycation. I once told everyone that I was thinking of going to the lake for a week and then I just stayed home. It was heaven. 

May 2017 Keep Up with Changes

Important Changes for Manitoba Caregivers. 

Take time to be informed about these changes.  
  • Primary Caregiver Tax Credit
  • Patient Advocate Agreement
  • Hospital Services
  • Short-Term Intensive Home Care Service

Primary Caregiver Tax Credit

Manitoba’s Primary Caregiver Tax Credit provides a refundable credit of up to $1,400 a year to people who act as primary caregivers for spouses, relatives, neighbours or friends who live at home in Manitoba. For this tax credit, people requiring care must be assessed at Level 2 or higher under the Manitoba Home Care Program guidelines.
2017 Budget Changes:
1. The maximum credit is $1400 per year even for caregivers who are caring for more than one person.

2. Retroactive claims prior to 2017 are not permitted. Eligibility now begins in the year of the application.  However, if an application is submitted in 2017 but the credit is not claimed until 2019, the caregiver may still claim the credit for 2017 and 2018.

Further questions? FAQ's About the Primary Caregiver Tax Credit

Patient Advocate Agreement

Previously called the Patient Advocate Form, this extremely useful document now has the approval of the WRHA. The form has some logical revisions and a disclaimer. Be sure to use this!
Download the agreement here:   Patient Advocate Agreement

Hospital Services

Emergency Room Services 24/7
  • Health Sciences Centre
  • St. Boniface Hospital 
  • Grace Hospital

Urgent Care Centres 24/7
  • Seven Oaks Hospital
  • Victoria Hospital

Seven Oaks will also  offer specialty care for out-patient renal services, and will offer elective endoscopy procedures, as well as rehabilitation and transitional care for older patients.
Victoria will also continue to offer specialty care in day surgery and expanded in-patient mental health services.
Misericordia Health Centre -  Urgent Care will close and that space will be used for intravenous therapy.  
Concordia Hospital the emergency department will close. It will now offer general and geriatric rehabilitation services and transitional care for people waiting to get into personal care homes.
Deer Lodge Centre will get more resources for special need residents, including those with dementia.
Riverview Health Centre will also continue to specialize in Alzheimer and dementia care, respite services and respiratory chronic care. 

The transition is expected to take 6 to 24 months.

Short-term Intensive Home Care Service 

The WRHA hopes to reduce the number of seniors discharged from hospital straight into a personal care home by about half through the creation of a new, short-term intensive home care service. The goal is to have this enhanced home care services program up and running in six months' time.