I recently spoke with some bank colleagues about the role and benefits of elder care services in banks. At first glance this may seem an unlikely combination, but in fact, it is increasingly a benefit offered to private bank and trust clients. Some banks have been doing this for many years, and a few others are just now incorporating the service into their trust or private bank services. Banks are paying bills, managing assets, setting up in-home care, etc to ensure a customer’s well-being. Sometimes they are even setting up the sale of a house. Oftentimes they will bring in geriatric care managers to oversee the care and care coordination. They may charge an additional fee for these services, or include them in the asset management fees paid by the
Trust officers have close relationships with their clients, and are often the first to notice when their elderly client (or a younger client with special needs) needs more services to remain safely in the home. Starting early and bringing in services as the needs evolve allows an elder to age in place safely. For the bank, attracting and managing bank deposits is of primary importance and keeping an elder safe, and in his or her own home, will go far in maintaining the elder’s assets.
We were recently called in by a family upon their arrival to the U.S. after being evacuated from Cairo. The employee and her elderly family member were evacuated on short notice from Cairo during the 18 day protest. With the employee’s corporate elder care benefit, we were able to step in and assess the elder’s current functioning and needs, and work with both of them to set up a plan and gather resources so that the elder could get situated in his new area. While the assessment took place on a Saturday morning so the employee could be present, the planning and resource gathering took place during the week that followed, all while the employee was at work. The employee missed no work and did not need to be pulled away or distracted with the details of care planning, the elderly family member is engaged in activities in his new area, and the Revolution came to an inspiring conclusion. What a week.
When considering adding an elder care benefit to your work/life program, consider that offering one is relatively inexpensive, and has high internal and external value. There is well known research from MetLife that shows how elder care benefits reduce turnover, increase productivity, and decrease absenteeism and healthcare costs. A range of services can be provided, some low-intervention and low-cost, such as resource and referral, to higher-touch programs, such as care management, which involves more in-person assessment, problem solving and guidance.
What to do? It is time to respond. Doing nothing is more costly. To your employees, to their families, and to your business.
I spoke with a Human Resources colleague recently who stated that while corporations and their employees have a great need for organizational elder care benefits, it is important that those who provide the benefit remain flexible in delivering the product. That is, elder care consultants need to provide a menu of elder care services that are broad enough to touch many lives, and address many situations.
We at Senior Care Management Services are accustomed to this request. We recognize that each elder care situation is unique. Thus, whether it be through presentations to employees at their work site, elder care question and answer sessions with a group of employees, in-person or phone consultation with an employee, or an in-home assessment with the elder’s participation, we can help to uncover the unique needs of the elder and guide the family toward a workable solution. Ultimately, the employer’s cost is reduced through improved employee productivity and presenteeism.
Employee caregivers suffer a higher incidence of health conditions that are proven to be caused and/or affected by lifestyle factors, i.e. diet, stress, etc.
In the MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs (Feb 2010), diabetes was more common in employed caregivers than non-caregivers (7% vs 4%).
Overall, working caregivers are more likely to be taking a prescription medication to lower cholesterol (21% of white collar working caregivers vs 16% of non-caregivers, and 24% of blue collar caregivers vs 19% of non-caregivers).
In the area of hypertension, caregivers come out high again, as they are more likely to be taking anti-hypertensive medication: 23% of white collar caregivers report taking anti-hypertensive medications vs 16% of non-caregivers. For blue-collar caregivers, the ratios are 25% for caregivers vs 20% for non-caregivers.
The study tracked other health conditions as well, and concluded that caregiving makes working caregivers more susceptible to these and other conditions, and consequently increases employers health care costs by 8% per year.
MetLife has been conducting Employee Benefit Trends studies since 2003. Of course, each year the results are a little different than the last, and the study conducted in November 2009, and released in early 2010 is no exception. This year’s findings were overlaid with our current economic challenges, and so the conclusions of the study represent that context. Specifically, the 2010 study found the most important employer benefits objectives during this period of the recession were:
● Controlling health and welfare benefits costs
● Retaining employees
● Increasing employee productivity
Employer Challenges of the Recession
During this recession, those employers who reduced benefits saw reduced job satisfaction scores as well, perhaps meaning there is a price for cutting benefits that may make the savings less worthwhile. Additionally, job satisfaction declined from 2008 to 2009 (53% in 2009 vs. 59% in Nov. 2008).
Productivity gains associated with job insecurity may not be sustainable once unemployment improves, and the study concluded that employers should consider more long-term strategies to maintain productivity efficiencies.
The loyalty gap persists from previous years: Employers overestimate their employees’ perceptions of employer loyalty, which could result in a retention risk.
Employee Benefits Contribute to Loyalty and Productivity
While employer have many challenges in this economy, there are some positive findings as well. Work-life balance programs contribute to employee loyalty and improve productivity. And perhaps because most employers preserved benefits during the recession, benefits satisfaction is higher than before the crisis (42% vs. 37%). There is a high correlation between benefits satisfaction and job satisfaction. This is a positive sign for retention goals.