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What is the Working Caregiver Initiative (WCI)?
The WCI was developed to help caregivers make pro-active caregiving decisions, and to help employers and their employees be proactive in dealing with the many issues of caregiving.  It is a free, community-based, educational support system designed to empower and educate working caregivers to make better decisions in regards to the care for their loved ones.  In return, businesses will benefit from the program in that it fosters a support system for their employees.  Family caregivers account for 73% of early departures and late arrivals in the workforce, as well as long and frequent personal phone calls, numerous mistakes, conflict with co-workers, low morale, and increased health problems.  In fact, the average family caregiver takes 17 unpaid leave days annually to care for their loved ones.  Using the WCI at work shows employees that their employer supports them in their roles as caregivers, and will help to educate and empower employees to make proactive caregiving decisions.

Why is the WCI Needed?
The answer here is two-fold.  First, according to a MetLife study, working caregivers lose an average of $659,139 during their career in terms of social security, pension, and wages lost.  Besides the financial toll, caregivers also suffer from higher depression rates up to six times the national average, are 50% more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, and manifest other signs including sleeplessness, fatigue, stomach disorders, anxiety, indecision, apathy, and anger.  These issues lead to higher instances of substance abuse, decreased personal hygiene, time-off from work, tardiness, and difficult to manage family dynamics.

The cost of not having a caregiver support system in place at work is costing American businesses staggering amounts of money.  A second MetLife study shows that the average working caregiver costs businesses $2,110 annually in productivity, and that 42% of America's workforce provide some form of care.  For a business with 100 employees, of which 42 are caregivers, more than $88k is lost annually.  Overall, family caregiving issues are costing American businesses $33.6 billion every year.

The statistics will only get worse.  By the year 2030, 20% of our population will be over the age of 65.  The number of people over the age of 50 will grow by 74% over the next two decades, while the number of people under the age of 50 will increase by a mere 1%.  In 2000, there were five working people for every person over the age of 65.  In 2030, it is estimated that there will be only three working people for every senior.  What does this mean?  There will be an even greater need to care for an aging population by fewer people - people who will still need to work full-time jobs to care for their children and their parents.  The time is right to begin caregiver support programs within the workplace so that employees can find support and resources at their place of employment.

How Does the WCI Work?
The entire WCI community education program is provided for free to businesses, places of worship, and organizations that agree to provide regularly scheduled WCI support group meetings on location.  By doing so, every employee, congregant, or volunteer will have access to their organization's secured WCI web domain which announces WCI support group meeting locations and times, and provides a wealth of relevant information on caregiving issues and topics. Participants will be able to watch short educational videos during their lunch breaks, participate in and watch streaming webinars dealing with caregiving issues, and even network on a secured message board where working caregivers can exchange ideas.  The entire program is effective, however, because of the brown-bag lunch support groups that allow working caregivers to meet and share in a safe and secure environment, usually within the very building where they work.  And again, this is all done at no cost to the employer, or the employee.

How Do We Participate in the WCI?
Call Bert Copple at 248-904-8455, or email him at bert.copple@homeinstead.com.  A meeting date will be set to see what your organizations' needs are, and to see if the WCI is right for you.