Connecting Working Caregivers Catalyst Project

Family caregivers are vital to the support and well-being of seniors and elders in Canada. These carers also supplement and complement the services of health care professionals, and they are critical to the functioning of the health care and continuing care sectors in Canada. Canada’s 8.1 million caregivers account for nearly 3 in 10 Canadians, and three-quarters of these carers are also in the paid labour force.1Employment and Social Development Canada, “When Work and Caregiving Collide: How Employers Can Support Their Employees Who Are Caregivers,” Report from the Employer Panel for Caregivers (January 27, 2016), http://bit.ly/1xtUyUi. While families are flexible and resilient, constantly adapting to manage their multiple roles, this multi-tasking can have an impact on their careers and well-being if they don’t have access to adequate support:

  • 1 in 7 employed caregivers in Canada reduced their paid work hours to provide care.
  • 44% of employed caregivers in Canada missed an average 8–9 days of paid work in the past year because of their care responsibilities.
  • 1 in 10 family members providing care had quit, been fired or had retired from a job because of their care responsibilities within the past year.2Janet Fast, “Caregiving for Older Adults with Disabilities: Present Costs, Future Challenges,” IRPP Study No. 58 (December 16, 2015), Institute for Research on Public Policy, http://bit.ly/1T1sN19.

The Connecting Working Caregivers Catalyst Project aims to explore the role that assistive technologies (AT) can play in reducing both employment consequences for caregivers and downstreaming costs to employers and other stakeholders. Some evidence points to benefits from using technology to help caregivers streamline or reduce care demands, communicate more effectively with care network members, mitigate stress, facilitate social engagement and work remotely. However, it’s not yet clear exactly how effective ATs can be at mitigating employment consequences or how they impact workplaces.

The Connecting Working Caregivers pilot/feasibility study will address this knowledge gap by engaging AGE-WELL partners as employers of caregivers in order to determine what role they and their caregiver-employees envision technology playing in supporting caregiver employees, their willingness to adopt/provide such technologies and potential barriers to using AT.

Pulse check surveys will be conducted with three or four partner-employers from each sector represented in AGE-WELL (e.g., private, public, NGO, post-secondary education). A group of 20 caregiver-employees will be recruited from each partner-employer’s workplace to complete their own pulse check survey. These short surveys will provide a few key indicators to help evaluate employers’ and employees’ interest in, competence and confidence with, readiness for and use of technologies that may help them fulfill their multiple responsibilities as employers and as caregiver-employees. Workplaces and caregiver-employees will be sought to test new and emerging ATs.

Consultations will be held with all AGE-WELL partner organizations at a knowledge mobilization forum held in conjunction with the AGE-WELL conference in Montreal on October 18, 2016, where pulse check survey findings will be released.

The Vanier Institute’s role in this collaboration is to:

  • Publish findings from the project on our website, in our e-newsletter and through social media
  • Participate in conferences and panels for the project

 

Project Lead
Janet Fast, Ph.D.
Research on Aging, Policies, and Practice (RAPP)
Department of Human Ecology
University of Alberta

 

For more information, please contact:
Sara MacNaull
Program Director
The Vanier Institute of the Family
94 Centrepointe Dr., Ottawa, Ontario  K2G 6B1
Tel.: 613-228-8500, ext. 219
smacnaull@vanierinstitute.ca

Notes   [ + ]

1. Employment and Social Development Canada, “When Work and Caregiving Collide: How Employers Can Support Their Employees Who Are Caregivers,” Report from the Employer Panel for Caregivers (January 27, 2016), http://bit.ly/1xtUyUi.
2. Janet Fast, “Caregiving for Older Adults with Disabilities: Present Costs, Future Challenges,” IRPP Study No. 58 (December 16, 2015), Institute for Research on Public Policy, http://bit.ly/1T1sN19.