Why Companies Should Give Employees Caregiving Benefits

The reality today is that many people in the workforce have increasing caregiving responsibilities. Just as child care services and benefits became popular when women entered the workforce in the ‘60s and ‘70s, senior care benefits are in-demand now that adults in their 40s and 50s are taking care of their aging Baby Boomer parents in addition to their own children. Many employees have the stressful challenge of balancing their full-time job with being a caregiver for their children, spouse, or parents.

This can be extremely stressful and cause employees to miss work and be less productive, costing their company money – unless they are provided with caregiving services and benefits. These benefits can come in the form of paid leave to care for family members, eldercare policies, financial assistance, flexible work hours, telecommuting, long-term care insurance coverage for employees and their dependents, job sharing, counselling, and support groups. Companies need to accommodate their workers’ needs and help them manage having a career and being a caregiver. Here are some ways that providing caregiving benefits works in favor of both the employees and employers.

Fewer absences

Without proper caregiving support, an employee might be distracted from while they’re at work or have to miss work altogether. On average, caregivers have to miss six and a half days of work each year due to caregiving responsibilities. They could be absent to care for a family member, or they could stay home because they are physically, mentally, or emotionally fatigued from balancing caregiving with their job. Here’s where caregiving benefits, like access to a geriatric care manager, can be a huge help. A geriatric care manager can offer support and information to employees, helping them create a care plan and take advantage of available services – so they can get back to work.

Increased productivity and performance

Since a loss of productivity can hurt a company’s bottom line, it’s important to keep employees working effectively – and if an employee is absent, stressed out, or exhausted, they won’t be. Providing benefits like flexi-time (working flexible hours) and telecommuting (occasionally working remotely) accommodate caregivers’ schedules, so they can still attend doctor’s appointments without letting productivity or performance suffer. Maybe they’ll have a few hours to work on a report early in the morning, or they can answer emails from the hospital waiting room. Even if they can’t be in the office, with options like these they can still get their work done.

Improved morale

Employees with caregiving benefits are happier, not only because their caregiving needs are taken care of so they have less stress, but also because they feel valued by the company they work for. Companies that provide caregiving benefits send a message that they understand what their employees are going through and want to help. This increases employee loyalty – a huge win for companies that want to retain their employees.

Better for business

Simply put, providing employees with caregiving benefits helps save companies money in the long run. We’ve already covered how caregiving benefits can increase employee productivity and performance, which helps the bottom line. But did you know the stress and burnout faced by employees doing double duty as caregivers without assistance can increase companies’ health care costs? And if the stress gets so bad the employee quits, it’s even pricier. The cost of losing replacing an employee can range from 50% to 150% of their salary, once you account for recruiting and training a new employee, plus losing the knowledge and skills of the previous one. However, according to the Family Caregivers’ Network Society, staff turnover falls by 50% when employees are provided with benefits. Even though there are upfront costs, it pays off for companies to offer caregiving benefits to employees.

Valentine’s Is Just Around the Corner – Start Planning Ahead a Night Out

Now that you’re a parent, Valentine’s Day might look a little different. But just because your kitchen has more bottles of milk than wine, doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the holiday of love! Valentine’s Day can still be special – even for parents – as long as you make arrangements in advance and plan it properly. Here are some tips for a fun, romantic, and stress-free Valentine’s Day.

  1. Plan in advance

Thinking a romantic dinner at a fine dining restaurant? Maybe a movie or a couple’s massage? Join the club. Since most couples have the same idea, you’ll need to make your reservation ASAP, buy your movie tickets in advance, and book your spa appointment early. If you’re looking for a more creative date idea, why not try a painting and cocktails event, or go to a comedy show or rock climbing. A walk in the park, poetry reading, or ice skating can be just as romantic as dinner at a swanky restaurant – and can be planned last-minute if you’ve already missed the boat on the V-Day classics.

  1. Book your babysitter

It’s not just dinner reservations and bouquets that are in-demand on Valentine’s Day. Babysitters can also be difficult to find under the wire. BookJane can help you find qualified caregivers to watch your kids while you enjoy a night of romance with your loved one. Ask the babysitter to come early before you head out to supervise the kiddos while you and your partner get spruced up.

  1. Get ready ahead of time

You might want to pick up a bottle of bubbly, dry clean your favourite dress, or perhaps head to the waxing salon. Try to run these errands in advance – you don’t want to be rushing around the night of, losing precious time to get primped before your date. Same goes for getting a gift. Whether you’re giving a typical Valentine’s Day gift – like roses, chocolate or jewelry – or something more unique – like concert tickets or a love letter – having your gift ready to go will save you some stress on the big day. And don’t forget about the card! It’s not as easy to write something heartfelt when the clock is ticking.

  1. Get the kids involved

Now that you’re a family, Valentine’s Day can be less about celebrating romantic love with your partner and more about celebrating family love and friendship with the kids. You can include your little ones in the festivities by setting up a Valentine’s-inspired craft or activity to do with them or for them to do with the babysitter while you’re out. Help them make origami hearts or handmade cards to send to Grandma and Grandpa. Make red and pink cake pops for a sweet Valentine’s Day treat. Getting your kids in on the holiday of love will prevent them from feeling left out when you and your spouse have your own celebration.

  1. Make alternate arrangements

For busy parents, celebrating Valentine’s Day the usual way isn’t always feasible. There’s no need to stick to tradition; do what works for you! If you can swing it, try a romantic weekday lunch instead of dinner – this will also save you some dough. If Valentine’s Day falls during the week (like it does this year) celebrate the weekend before or after instead. If going out requires too much planning, have your date at home. Order takeout, turn on the “Greatest Love Songs of All Time” playlist on Spotify, and set up a picnic in the living room. You can still hire a sitter even if you stay home, so you and your significant other can have some alone tim

Essential Information to Leave Your Babysitter

The babysitter has arrived, the kids have been fed, and their favourite movie is on Netflix. Think you’re ready to leave for a night on the town? Think again. Your babysitter will need some info in order to have a safe, fun, and successful time with the kids. Whether you’re leaving baby with a sitter for the first time, or your school-age children have had a babysitter for years, make sure you leave this important information for your babysitter:

1. Your contact info

This one’s pretty obvious – you want the sitter to know how they can reach you while you’re out. Leave your full name, cell phone number, and work number if appropriate. Tell them how and when you’d like to be contacted. Should they text you with updates every hour, or should they just call you in case of emergency?

2. Your plans

Let your babysitter know where you’re going, and give them the address and number to that place – like the restaurant name, address and phone number. Tell the sitter what time you expect to be home and when you will call to check in.

3. General info

A babysitter should have a list with basic information (full name, age, etc.) for all family members, including pets. They should know your exact address and home phone number. Leave the names and numbers of trusted neighbours or close-by friends, too. Having someone to help nearby can really come in handy.

4. Emergency info

In case of emergency, you don’t want to take any chances. Here’s a list of information that should be provided to babysitters to help in an emergency situation:

  • Name of who to contact in case of emergency, and their phone number, address, and relationship to your children
  • Local fire station, police, poison control, ambulance, and hospital phone numbers
  • Directions to your house to give out to emergency personnel
  • Pediatrician/family doctor’s name and phone number
  • Veterinary emergency number
  • Location of first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, and other emergency supplies (flash lights, spare house key, circuit breaker, etc.)
  • Emergency routine/instructions (what to do in case of emergency, exit plan)
  • Photocopy of your children’s health insurance cards
  • Health care authorization or medical consent form to allow your babysitter to get medical attention for your children in you absence

5. Medical Info

The babysitter should be made aware of your children’s basic medical information. Do they have any allergies or health conditions, like asthma? Are they on any medications? Do they have an EpiPen or any other medicine that might need to be administered? Let the babysitter know what to do in case of common medical issues, like diaper rash, fever, or headache. Let your sitter know of any medical issues your pet has too.

6. Behaviour tips

This information can be helpful in making sure things run smoothly. Give your sitter some advice as to what might upset your child or trigger a tantrum, and also how to calm down and sooth your child, or cheer up a bad mood. Perhaps there’s a special teddy bear that keeps your child feeling safe when they’re scared. You should also tell the sitter how you’d like them to deal with misbehaviour. Should they cut TV time short, or would you like them to let you know so you can handle it when you return?

7. Rules and routines

Bedtime, bathtime, mealtime – your sitter needs to know all about these routines. In addition to what time the kids go to bed, tell your sitter about rituals like which pajamas they like, how long they brush for, and which book to read before bed. Don’t forget general house rules, like how much screen time is allowed and what websites the kids can and can’t visit. Don’t forget to make rules for the babysitter too. Are they allowed to have friends over? Do you feel comfortable with them dozing off after the little ones have gone to bed? Are there any gadgets you don’t want them to use?

8. Food and drink info

Make it easy for the babysitter. Tell them what time meals are, and give suggestions as to what they can make and eat. Be specific, so the kids don’t make a fuss. Do they like milk or butter in their mac and cheese? Do they want their PB&J sandwich cut into rectangles or triangles? Let the babysitter know of any foods the kids don’t like, and any food-related rules, like what the kids are allowed to eat for snacks.

9. Activity suggestions

You know your kids best, and that’s why a list of kid- and parent-approved activities will be much appreciated. Does your child have a favourite toy or game? Is there a movie or book they just can’t get enough of? Sharing this info will help both the babysitter and kids get the most out of their time together.

Why Seniors Should Embrace Technology

Today’s seniors didn’t grow up with the Internet, iPad, or computers. Technologies that seemed like science fiction 30 years ago are now readily available and can serve many functional uses in our lives. Some older adults may be skeptical about new technologies or find it difficult to learn how to use them, but there are lots of benefits to seniors who use technology, like improving mental cognition and being able to communicate with loved ones far away. Here are some reasons you should hook up your older loved ones with technology and help them become cyber seniors.

  1. To get help with daily tasks

The internet makes a lot of daily tasks that get harder as we age much easier. Need groceries? You can get them delivered to your door. Need a ride? Download a ride sharing app. Need a ready-made meal? There’s a meal delivery service for that. With online banking, seniors can pay bills from the comfort of their own home. The BookJane app can be used to find a senior caregiver or companion. There are even platforms, like AskForTask in Canada and TaskRabbit in the US, to help you find service providers for daily errands from plumbing and painting to lawn mowing and dog walking. The only catch: you have to sign up online.

  1. To exercise – mentally and physically

Technology can help seniors work out both their minds and their bodies. Looking at old pictures and listening to music of the past can help provide memory stimulation. Brain fitness apps, like iBrainErcise, have been shown to improve cognition and mental agility and forestall memory loss in seniors. Not only do games and puzzles help keep the brain sharp, but video game systems like the Wii Fit can get seniors physically active in the convenience of their own home.

  1. For entertainment

If there’s one thing we all know about technology, it’s that it can be a lot of fun! One reason is the plethora of available games, from sudoku and solitaire to Candy Crush and the Sims. If Mom has an appointment and will miss her weekly mahjong game, she can play online in the waiting room. There’s even a seniors residence that has an Angry Birds tournament. Seniors can also have lots of fun reading on tablets and e-readers. Not only is almost every book imaginable available in this format, but older adults with vision problems can enlarge the typeface so it’s easier to read.

  1. To learn new things

New technologies are great educational tools. Seniors can surf the web like they would flip through an encyclopedia to research and learn more about topics they’re interested in. They can also use it to follow the news and visit government sites. There are many free online courses for seniors, through sites like Senior Planet, where mature adults can watch lectures, study new topics and learn new skills.

  1. For social connection and communication

Email, social networking sites, and Skype have enabled seniors to connect and keep in touch with friends and family – especially internet-age grandkid, who might not be able to visit frequently but always have their iPhone on hand. These technologies increase social interaction for seniors, and the more social interaction the better, since it reduces isolation, loneliness, and depression. A study has even shown that when seniors are trained to use social media, Skype, and email, they perform better cognitively and see improved health.

  1. For health management

It’s hard for anyone to remember to take their pills every day, especially seniors, who usually take a number of medications at different dosages and times of day. Enter medication management apps. TabSafe, RxmindMe, and MedMinder are examples of apps that alert you when it’s time to take and refill medications to reduce errors and missed doses. There are also health tracking apps for seniors that help track and organize health information, like appointments, health conditions, medical histories, and physician contacts. Technology can be a lifesaver – literally.

Why You Should Hire a Professional Babysitter

Every parent deserves a night off. And when you’re treating yourself to a date night with your spouse or a girls’ night out, you’re gonna need to hire a babysitter to watch your little ones. It might be tempting to hire 13-year-old Ashley who lives down the street, or Uncle Jack who said he’d do it for free, but here’s why you should leave babysitting to trusted and trained professionals.

  1. They’re credible and reliable

Professional babysitters have lots of experience with kids. Accidents happen, and in case of emergency, they’ll stay cool, calm, and collected, and know exactly what to do. Most professional babysitters have background checks and first aid/CPR certification. BookJane even requires its caregivers have reference checks, in-person interviews, and up-to-date immunizations. This makes them much more dependable and trustworthy – exactly who you’d want to be watching your kids, even if you have to book them last minute.

  1. They’re more fun

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: professionals have experience. They know just how to get a fussy one to bed, how to get a picky one to eat their veggies, and how to keep any child entertained. They’re not going to just turn on Netflix and let the tube do all the work – they’ve got games and activities in their back pocket, and they’re not afraid to use them. Once your children get to know their new sitter, they’ll be excited for your next night out and all the fun they’ll have in store!

  1. They do more

It might feel awkward asking your parents to do some housework while they babysit their grandkids, and teenagers might not know how to cook dinner, tidy up properly, or administer medicine. When you hire a professional sitter, you can predetermine responsibilities beyond watching the kids. Many professional babysitters provide services including meal prep and housekeeping. They also drive, so they can drop off and pick up your kids, and drive themselves home at the end of the night. When you hire a teenager without a license, you will have to worry about getting them to and from your place.

  1. Compensation is fair and easy

When a friend or family member babysits, you tend to feel guilty they’re doing you a favour for free. When it comes to paying a teenager, how much do you give? You’ve also got to make sure you have the exact amount in cash. Professional babysitters have set hourly rates, so you don’t have to have that awkward conversation. For professionals signed up with BookJane, you can pay using your credit card right on the app. It couldn’t be easier!

  1. They’ve got references

You always want the peace of mind of having a babysitter with people who can vouch for them. It’s great to get referrals from people you know, but what happens when the friend who recommended a babysitter is going out the same night you are? Professional babysitters you can find through childcare service providers, like BookJane, will have a long list of references who endorse them. BookJane even shows you each nearby caregiver’s rating and reviews, all in one place – so you can feel good knowing your kids are in good hands.

  1. You set the rules

We all know that once you go out, the kids will try bending the normal house rules – but it’s more difficult for them to get away with it in the presence of a professional babysitter. When a friend or family member babysits, it can be hard to give them parameters. They might feel comfortable doing what they think is best, regardless of the instructions you give them. Even though you said bedtime is nine o’clock and there’s no dessert, Aunt Carol might think her niece and nephew deserve to stay up eating ice cream. You said screen time is limited to an hour; will a teenager know how to take the iPad away with a fuss? With a professional babysitter, you can feel comfortable setting the rules and knowing they will be adhered to.

 

 

Winter Hazards for Seniors – and How to Avoid Them

While temperatures drop, the risks of health problems and injuries for older adults rise. Winter presents many challenges and seniors, from the bitter cold, to icy walkways, to the winter blues. But there’s no need to freeze up! Here are some of the most common winter hazards seniors face, and tips on how to avoid them. Take the necessary precautions and plan ahead to help the seniors in your life stay safe and healthy this winter.

Slip and Falls:

When temperatures fall below zero, snow, ice, slush, and wet surfaces aren’t far behind, making slipping and falling a major risk for seniors. If your senior loved one is unable to shovel, make sure someone clears and salts their walkway for them. When they go outside, they should wear shoes with good traction. Pack a small bag of sand or cat litter for them to keep in their coat pocket to sprinkle when they come across icy spots.

Dangerous Driving:

Winter weather doesn’t just make it easy to slip and fall, it makes it dangerous on the roads too. While seniors should avoid driving during bad weather conditions, they should also be prepared if they get caught in a snowstorm. When the weather outside is nasty, always drive slowly and carefully. Snow tires and antifreeze are absolute necessities. Make sure the car is stocked with basic emergency supplies, like blankets, food, and booster cables.

Frostbite and Hypothermia:

When cold temperatures hit, seniors are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia. It is recommended that seniors stay inside as much as possible during the winter, so arrange for someone to take care of their errands, like grocery shopping and picking up medication. If they must brave the elements, make sure they’re equipped with a proper jacket, gloves, a hat, and lots of layers. Frostbite and hypothermia can happen indoors as well, so get the furnace inspected before winter starts, and keep the thermostat above 65 degrees.

Influenza:

Winter overlaps with flu season, and seniors are especially susceptible to catching the flu, which can lead to more serious illnesses, like pneumonia. The single best way for seniors to prevent the flu is by getting the flu shot annually at the beginning of flu season – around October. For more info on helping seniors avoid getting sick during cold and flu season, check out our blog post here.
Social Isolation and Depression:

Because of many of the hazards mentioned above, seniors tend to spend more time indoors and alone during the winter. This can lead to loneliness, depression, and social isolation. Don’t let your senior loved one spend the winter home alone; try to spend some extra time with them. If you aren’t able to visit, use BookJane to find a qualified caregiver to keep your senior company. Also, because of the decreased sunlight in the wintertime, many seniors experience a decrease in mood and energy, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Letting in as much natural light as possible and getting brighter light bulbs can help lift their spirits.

 

7 Tips for Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave

For a new mom, returning to work can be difficult. Though you’ve made your childcare arrangements and chosen a back-to-work start date, there is still uncertainty and conflicting emotions to deal with. You might feel guilty leaving your child, but excited to get back to the office. You might feel relieved to get out of the house, but anxious about returning to work. How will you balance your professional life with motherhood and household responsibilities? Here are some tips for a successful transition back to working after mat leave.

  1. Practice your new routine

Now that you have a new morning routine, do a dry run to figure out how long you’ll need on a typical morning. Remember to account for a morning feeding, getting dressed, traffic, and saying goodbye to your child. You might even consider starting your childcare a week early to give both you and baby some time to get used to this change; you don’t come into work emotional on your first day back.

  1. Get ready the night before

You’ll be thankful when you have to wake up at 5:45 a.m. that you’ve already laid out your outfit (and baby’s), packed a lunch, and prepped the coffee the night before. Getting as much as you can organized at night will relieve some of the mama morning stress, and give you some extra time to say goodbye to your little one.

  1. Have a backup plan

You’ve already sorted out your child care, but what happens when baby gets sick, the daycare is closed for a day, or the family member watching your child is stuck in traffic? You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute, so be prepared with a plan B. It can be awkward to have to ask for time off when you’ve just returned to work, so you’ll want to make arrangements with a family member or find a good, dependable babysitter. BookJane can help you find qualified caregivers near you, so you can be prepared with alternative arrangements when things don’t go according to plan.

  1. Take care of yourself

Between your new work schedule, spending quality time with your child at home, and getting all the housework and errands out of the way, your time will become a lot more precious. But if you don’t make time for yourself, you will burn out and won’t be able to take care of anyone else. Get into the habit of treating yourself to a morning cappuccino, a phone chat with a friend in the same situation, and lots of relaxing nights in. Most importantly, make sure you get enough sleep. Let your partner chip in more, even letting them do a night feeding. Choose more sleep over doing the dishes or another load of laundry – you’ll need it now that you’re waking up earlier.

  1. Share the load at home

Once you return to work, you and your partner can share the workload at home more equally. Discuss with your partner what household duties need to be done, and set clear expectations about who is responsible for what. This will help you avoid getting into needless arguments.

  1. Get your confidence back

Many women find their confidence declines when they go back to work after mat leave. To get back into the swing of things, set up a meeting with your boss a few weeks before your return to discuss job duties, expectations, any organizational changes, and possible flexible work arrangements. This should help mitigate some of the back-to-work anxiety. Another great way to help you feel professional and boost your confidence is getting a new haircut or buying a new outfit. Who doesn’t love a little retail therapy?

  1. Take advantage of lunch hour

Now that you’re back at work, your hour-long lunch is a good time to get errands done, so you can have more time at home to spend with your little one. Use your lunch hour to buy groceries, do online banking, book appointments, or shop online for household necessities. This is also a good time to do something for yourself, like going for a walk, to a yoga class, or getting a massage to keep yourself energized and free up some time at home.