Employers benefit from smart home technology designed to give their caregiver employees peace of mind
More than 55 million seniors currently reside in the United States, a number expected to reach 95 million over the next 40 years. This “Silver Tsunami” represents a historically under-served demographic that is exploding in population. The senior wave is cresting—and poised to crash down on the American healthcare industry.
Unpaid caregivers are a critical blind spot in this equation. Many seniors today are supported by family and friends who provide care and augment clinicians while also working outside of the home. Statistics show that working caregivers average 21 hours per month (on top of their full-time jobs) caring for their loved ones and miss an average of 6.6 days of work per year due to their caregiving duties. Employers remain unaware that employees carry this responsibility which is compounded by the fact that many unpaid caregivers do not self-identify as such making employer identification even more challenging. Caregiver employees are more prone to neglecting self-care, report higher stress and anxiety levels, and 39% are eventually forced to leave the workforce.
This is why more employers are beginning to eye caregiver solutions. While many solutions focus on caregiver resource navigation, Quil Assure is bringing a new focus to the table, senior safety via proactive and predictive insights all captured through ambient sensing. Quil Assure was designed with the intent to give caregivers peace of mind while protecting senior privacy, and customers have reported a 79% reduction in stress and anxiety after using the system. Quil Assure provides insights on seniors’ daily activities, 24/7 emergency support, and coordination tools to keep everyone at ease. Supporting both seniors and their caregivers has also been proven to strengthen care relationships by 70%. And most importantly, proactive insights that indicate a change in health (like a change in gait speed or bathroom frequency) prompt action that reduces unnecessary ED visits, costly readmissions, and early transition to assisted living.
Addressing a double hit to healthcare employers
As a result of COVID-19, healthcare employers continue to face significant clinician staffing shortages. Not only are health systems faced with fewer employees to support higher patient volume, but statistically many of those employees also hold caregiving responsibilities of their own. To that end, caregiver activation is a much larger strategy than supporting patients alone—it also supports employee retention.
First, investing in caregiver activation is fruitful for both patient care and to distribute clinical responsibilities, where possible, to family support systems. If giving employees more room to perform at the top of their license isn’t enough, studies have shown that caregiver engagement can improve patient outcomes. Truly mobilizing family, friends, and support networks becomes a “second line of defense” to clinicians on the front lines and can mitigate burn out.
Second, many healthcare employers themselves are likely providing care for their own family members. Anecdotally, I have been told by industry colleagues that they are the first person in their family who gets appointed to caregiving duties just by virtue of being a healthcare worker. So for healthcare employers, I would posit that you have more unpaid employee caregivers than a non-healthcare employer. Providing employees with a tool to support caregiver responsibilities, particularly in an industry that understands firsthand what the impact can be, looks to be a clear opportunity.
Why employers should support the ‘Caregiving Challenge’
Employers need better solutions to support the 61% of employees who are caring for a loved one over 65. Why? Because it’s good for business. A MetLife Study of Working Caregivers found that caregivers caring for elderly loved ones cost employers 8% more in health care costs—which tallies to $13.4 billion per year due to neglect of their own physical and mental health. Meanwhile, 23% of Americans self-report that caregiving has caused their health to decline.
Employers that don’t offer caregiving solutions risk turnover, lost knowledge, and lost learned or specialized skills. There’s also a glaring equity issue, as women and minorities overwhelmingly bear the weight of caregiving. If employers can’t support caregivers, they may also find it challenging to recruit and retain a diverse staff.
Recruitment, retention, diversity, and ultimately, profit—solutions that support caregivers will no doubt help employees increase productivity while balancing work, family, and the demands of caring for aging loved ones. Not to mention there are ancillary benefits in also offering a caregiving solution to patients themselves.
Technology that works
The data tell us that caregiver support and activation work. Of Quil’s users, 79% reported lower anxiety and lower stress, and 70% reported improved relationships. The system provides clinical benefits like early detection of UTIs and falls, but also detects safety issues in the home like lost power, broken thermostats, and faulty doors. Quil remains steadfast in marching toward its mission to create technology that helps people thrive and age on their own terms while fostering connections with those who support them.