How to Balance Work and Caregiving

We recently wrote an article with information about how employers can help their employees that are also caregivers. But, how do caregivers best manage both roles? No matter how understanding and accommodating an employer is, it can be difficult for caregivers to find a balance between these two important roles.

Working caregivers can often feel overwhelmed with a ‘to-do’ list that seems unmanageable some days. Caregivers often have to manage bills, medical appointments and meals for their loved one. They may also have to provide hands-on care with daily tasks, such as dressing, eating, and bathing. All of this has to be done in addition to holding down full-time, or part time, employment.

There are two main things that you can do in order to manage both:

  1. Manage Your Daily Routine
  2. Communicate with Your Employer

Manage Your Daily Routine

Without a plan, it’s almost impossible to get everything done that needs to be done in a day. The following ideas may help you organise your daily routine.

  • Make a Schedule: As we mentioned above, your daily to-do list is likely to be pretty long. Don’t try to keep track of everything in your head. Instead, consider putting together a calendar that can be accessed by family members and other people that are involved in the care routine. This can be used to track activities, medical appointments and caring schedules.
  • Seek Help:There are a number of different organisations across Australia that have been set up to help caregivers. Some will offer respite services, while others offer support groups, advice and other methods of assistance. Do a bit of research online to find the ones that are relevant to you and the person in your care. Then, approach them and find out how they can help.
  • Separate Work and Caregiving: This may seem difficult, but it is important to try to separate work and caregiving duties as much as you can. This means ensuring you are carrying out caregiving duties in personal hours instead of work hours, not trying to schedule necessary medical calls and appointments during your lunch break, or before or after work.

Communicate with Your Employer

If your employer doesn’t know what is going on in your life, they can’t help you. While this may be something that you find difficult to talk about, it’s important to try to communicate with your employer so that they are aware of the circumstance that you are in.

  • Read Over Employment Information: Your employer may have given you a handbook when you started, or there is likely one available internally. This handbook might have information in it outlining any policies that your company has for caregivers, as well as flexible work options, family leave entitlements and other forms of employee assistance. By doing a bit of your own research, you may be able to find out most of what you need to know, and who to approach in the company for more information.
  • Speak to a Superior: Caring for a loved one is a significant role that makes up a huge part of your life. It is something that an employer, or a senior member of staff at your organisation should know. You don’t have to go into detail, just let them know that you have an important commitment but that it shouldn’t impact your work unless it’s an emergency. Be sure to let them know that you are still dedicated to your role and are putting in 100% at work.
  • Organise a Meeting: Your caregiving role is something that may impact your work, so it’s important that you let your workplace know in a formal manner. Don’t just casually mention it in the break room. Set up a formal time to talk with the appropriate person so that you can have a proper conversation where you’re both more focused.
  • Plan For an Emergency: In the event that something happens and the person in your care needs your assistance urgently, you may need to leave work in a hurry. Ensure you have planned for this by notifying a manager that this may happen and having a contingency plan in place to ensure the work gets done in your absence.

Caregiving is a difficult but important role, that becomes even more difficult when you’re juggling work at the same time. If you are caring for an older person, remember that you’re not in it alone. A quick Internet search can show you places to go for help, advice and support. Attending a Brain Sparks workshop not only will help you with some of the responsibilities that you take on, but could make the people you work with understand some of the demands you face in your caregiving role. For more information on how we can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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