LifeCare Study Finds Geriatric Care Management Improves Presenteeism Levels of Working Caregivers

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<strong>Shelton, Conn. &mdash; Feb. 19</strong><br />LifeCare Inc., provider of comprehensive specialty care services and a longtime leader in the work-life industry, has issued the findings of an 18-month study of the impact of workplace eldercare programs entitled, "Corporate Eldercare Programs: Their Impact, Effectiveness and the Implications for Employers." Among the study&#39;s key findings is that the presenteeism levels of working caregivers improved over time when they used a geriatric care management (GCM) program. Presenteeism is defined in this study as being focused and on-task while at work.<br /><br />The study examined the "presenteeism" levels of employees at a large health care company who care for aging loved ones, the extent to which they needed to make changes to their normal work schedules, their perceived levels of caregiving burden, their self-reported health, and their attitudes toward the support their employers provided. Employees who participated in the study fell into three basic categories: <br /><ol><li>Users of a resource and referral program.</li><li>Users of a geriatric care management program</li><li>Employees who used no programs for assistance. </li></ol><br />The study was designed and conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Center for Productive Aging, Towson University, program faculty and staff, and it was funded by LifeCare.<br /><br />Complete results of the study will be shared in greater depth with attendees of the "Aging In America" conference (hosted by the National Council on Aging and the American Society on Aging), which takes place in Washington on March 26-30. LifeCare&#39;s session will be held March 28. <br /><br />Key findings of the study, especially for the nation&#39;s employers, include:<br /><br /><ul><li>Presenteeism improved over time for users of geriatric care management (GCM) programs.</li><li>Users of GCM programs also were less likely to report negative caregiving impacts on their work performance than resource and referral users and individuals who do not use support programs at all.</li><li>Regarding their self-reported health, GCM users are more likely than the other two groups to report that their health is "excellent," and fewer GCM users report experiencing a change in their health during caregiving.</li><li>All three groups of employee caregivers commonly feel that the use of caregiving programs is something to delay until a crisis arises.</li></ul><br />"As this study shows, workplace eldercare programs can have a significant impact on caregivers&#39; ability to effectively manage their caregiving and job-related responsibilities," said LifeCare CEO Peter G. Burki. "And GCM users in particular, who typically receive a more intensive level of professional assistance, seem to have the best results by far."<br /><br />However, Burki noted, there&#39;s still work to be done when it comes to educating working caregivers about the proper use of these programs. "Too many people wait until after a crisis arises or until their situation becomes unmanageable to use the employer-sponsored support programs," he said. "Employees need to understand that these programs are meant to be used before a crisis arises. That&#39;s the best way to maximize the benefits of these programs for everyone involved, including the care recipient. And with the need for eldercare support programs growing exponentially, this is truly a hot-button issue for employers everywhere."<br /><br />The study also found that 70 percent of caregiving employees report taking time off from work to attend to caregiving responsibilities. While it would be impossible for employers to eliminate the need for caregiving employees to take some time off from work on occasion, Burki said that better communication between caregivers and their supervisors would help to minimize impacts and allow for better advance planning. Therefore, supervisors should foster a system of support that does two essential things: minimizes the barriers to honest discussion about caregiving issues that might affect the job and recognizes the importance of workers who will be called upon to take on additional work during caregivers&#39; absences.<br />

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