The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) and partner agencies have launched a Working Caregivers initiative to address the unique stresses experienced by individuals who are balancing work with a caregiving role for family, friends, or neighbors.
As part of this initiative to raise awareness and support working caregivers, NYSOFA is asking New Yorkers to complete a statewide survey to assess specific challenges faced by individuals in this role. NYSOFA and NYSDOL also offer a Caregivers in the Workplace Guide offering tips and resources for employers to help support working caregivers, including some further resources outlined below.
NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said, “Any caregiver is susceptible to feelings of burnout and other associated mental health, social or economic impacts. Our statewide survey has already begun to collect important data on the experiences of working caregivers in New York State, 32% of whom are assisting individuals for 22 hours or more every week. But the impact is two-fold, affecting employers as well as employees.”
He added: “Recognizing these unique stresses, we are leveraging support from private and public employers on an initiative to help all working caregivers at a time when 67% are missing days of work and 58% report being unable to focus while at work due to caregiver burden, according to preliminary results of our survey. A caregiver-responsive work environment is right for employees and employers alike. I encourage all employers to read our caregiving guide, share some of the support services already available for your employees, and ask employees to take our survey so that New York State can continue to advance caregiver-supportive policies.”
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “I encourage working caregivers statewide to complete this survey. Their valuable input will guide us as we explore meaningful solutions to provide the best support and services for these essential workers.”
Association on Aging in New York Executive Director Becky Preve said, "The Association on Aging in New York is proud to partner with New York State on initiatives to support working caregivers. These initiatives are providing employers with tools and resources to support their employees who are on the front lines of caregiving in New York State. I encourage all New York businesses to participate in this initiative. I also encourage employees to take the statewide working caregiver survey that will further inform efforts to support working caregivers."
A caregiver is a family member, friend or neighbor who provides uncompensated care and support to someone else, such as a spouse, an older parent, children, or someone with chronic or other medical conditions. More than half of unpaid caregivers don’t even self-identify as caregivers.
The Economic Impact of Caregiving
According to national data, U.S. businesses lose as much as $33.6 billion annually in caregiver-related turnover, absenteeism, and loss of productivity, according to one estimate. This includes situations where caregivers have no choice but to arrive late or leave work early, make phone calls during work time, leave work to respond to emergencies, or miss work altogether. Employees also have chosen to forgo promotions, have gone from full-time to part time or leave work altogether to continue their caregiving work.
For individuals providing care to an older person and a child at the same time, 85 percent experienced mental health symptoms and 52 percent reported suicidal thoughts, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other data from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found that 70 percent of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual roles; and 69 percent of caregivers reported having to rearrange their work schedule, decrease their hours, or take unpaid leave in order to meet responsibilities.
More data about the economic impacts of caregiving are on NYSOFA’s Working Caregiver webpage.
Resources for All Caregivers
Earlier in November, NYSOFA announced several resources and supports available to caregivers through its network of aging services partners, including traditional supports as well as digital tools. NYSOFA urges all employers to share these resources with their employees, including:
- The ARCHANGELS’ Caregiver Intensity Index, which helps caregivers identify with and feel honored in their role, gives them an Intensity Score, and navigates them to free resources for their unique needs. Finding your score and potential resources are available as part of Any Care Counts-NY, sponsored in part by NYSOFA in partnership with ARCHANGELS and the Association on Aging in New York (AgingNY).
- The Evidence-Based Caregiver Education and Training Portal, which is available free of charge for any caregiver in New York, powered by Trualta. This evidence-based caregiver training and support platform helps families build skills to manage care at home for loved ones of any age. It also connects to local resources and support services by delivering personalized education, training, and information links.
- The NY Connects Statewide Resource Directory to help individuals search for local services by zip code or service.