Caregiver Support Services | U.S. News

There are 50 million family caregivers in the U.S. That number is probably low considering that many people became caregivers for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, with a corresponding increase in the number of caregivers arises a corresponding increase in the media covering the issue and the number of services arising to assist family caregivers.


More employers have jumped on board to assist employee caregivers during the pandemic. For example, Google just upped their caregiver leave to eight weeks, doubling the days from its previous allowance. Pre-pandemic, there were benchmark companies leading the way, changing the attitude and company culture around caregivers first that further led to providing the right benefits at the right time.

A simple add-on to employee benefit programs have been bundling caregiver support services that offer everything from personal concierge services to financial guidance to referral services. New companies offering these services are popping up monthly. I would argue some have a deep-rooted mission in helping while others simply sense a business opportunity.

Certainly, if offered as a free service by an employer, it would be something to look into; however, if your employer offers caregiver support services as a volunteer benefit for a cost, then perhaps you need to evaluate whether it is worth the time and money exploring these options.

Time Off and Flexibility

In Harvard’s seminal report, The Caring Company, the two biggest needs for family caregivers in the workplace were time off and flexible working hours. While that report came out a few years ago, those priorities have not changed. While the country grapples for national paid time-off legislation, some employers have stepped up to offer it – some paying you during it, others just giving off the time.

The flexibility piece, one could argue, happened naturally because of COVID. Working from home, for those professions that can, certainly has helped caregivers to be more hands-on in caring for a loved one. For many companies, permanent changes have resulted as they realize the work is still getting done and jettisoning real estate for offices has a huge financial impact.

Still, having more time does not mean knowing how to organize your time and access the resources to be an effective caregiver. Caregiver burnout if anything has probably increased as the proximity and time near a loved one has worn people out mentally and physically. So that’s where these services come in.

But are caregiver support service programs rabbit holes that confuse you and waste your time, or can they be a valuable resource? Here are some things to consider.

What to Consider With an Employer Caregiver Support Service

If you’re considering opting in to an employee benefit support service at an additional cost to you, there are some questions you should ask yourself.

Can One Size Really Fit All?

Look at your everyday life. If your sink is leaking, you call a plumber. Bad wiring, you call an electrician. Can services that purport to offer guidance with elder care and child care, financial guidance, mental health assistance, etc. do all of these effectively?

Do You Need Yet Another App?

Most services provide caregivers with an app to help track tasks, do scheduling and organize communities of care. A consideration – will you actually use it or is it a time suck that distracts you from actual care?

Can a Concierge Service Make Effective Referrals?

Can a concierge on the phone or online, probably geographically distanced from you, make effective referrals for service that you cannot find on your own locally through community resources and word of mouth? I have seen companies that have niche experts, and I have seen companies that have a person on call in case someone actually calls for a referral. Make sure to understand what resources are available to you in a caregiver support service.

Is More Information a Good Thing?

There is no shortage of training classes, written information, audio podcasts and video resources that caregivers can avail themselves of through different channels. But do you have the time to explore them? Is the information accurate? Where is it sourced? Is the information dated?

You may sense I am a bit jaded here, but there is a reason that the uptake by employees for these benefits is poor. Employers lament that they are offering benefits that people may say they want but ultimately don’t use – sort of like that gym membership that sounds so good at the beginning of the year.

What You Can Do

As someone who has been in health care for 37 years and elder care for 30, and who has also been a family caregiver more than once, here’s where I’d recommend starting:

  • Advocate for family leave, flexible scheduling and virtual working from your employer.
  • With time and flexibility, use it effectively.
  • Find a physician for your loved one who specializes in the care of older adults. Yes, geriatricians are a rare breed but you can also find family practice physicians that have a heart for seniors. (I did for my mom.)
  • Find a good elder care attorney. Make sure they specialize in elder care. You will not regret the advice and pre-preparation they provide.
  • Consider a geriatric care manager to help with coordination and care. They are local, experienced and know the area. Many elder law attorneys keep them on staff.
  • Form your own community of care. A simple free app, like Lotsa Helping Hands, can help you organize care for a loved one. I used it for my mom in Florida (I was in North Carolina) during a time when my sister was ill.

The information and resources you need are often all around you. Support groups, churches, friends – they can provide Yelp-like ratings for the services you need.
If a company’s caregiver support services work for your coworkers, then by all means check them out. But beware of the drain it might take in navigating them and the rabbit holes you might go down.






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