Rethinking Caregiving Strategies for Today’s Organizations

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There is an increasing need for individuals to provide caregiving services.  Social changes, such as financial crises, growing unemployment, job loss, homelessness, family break-ups, relationship issues, and other problematic concerns, place huge demands on government and community-based support services.

Pastor Richard S. Brown, a community advocate in Tennessee, talks about the pressing need of churches and other service organizations that are reaching out to the needs of people:  “Everyone at one time or another will face giants in life. Giants represent those insurmountable problems, challenges, and obstacles in life.”

Often times, these giants of life cannot be solved without direct intervention from others.  For example, the aging population is a growing problem for organizations providing caregiving services.  According to the U.S. Census, 13% of the population is over 65 years old.  The average life expectancy is 77 years. Women live longer than men.  Seniors over 85 years old are the fastest growing segment of the population. Seventy five percent of people over 65 have one or more chronic health conditions.

Today’s organizations need to rethink the concept of caregiving in today’s society.  First Lady Rosalynn Carter noted the importance of caregiving: “There are four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” A caregiver can be defined as ‘anyone who provides assistance to someone who is incapacitated and needs help.

Caregiving can be performed informally via unpaid (family members and friends) or formally (volunteer or paid caregivers associated with a service system).  Currently, there are over 50 million caregivers.  By 2020, caregivers will number 80 million.  If one was to profile the typical caregiver, it would be described as the following: female (75%), over 50 years old (51%), sole provider (37%), and a relative (i.e. adult children- 57%).

Many organizations seek to address caregiving with generic solutions for their constituents instead of applying holistic approach to the specific person.  The generic approach is faster and cheaper in many cases.  However, Dr. Kenneth Haugh, author of Christian Caregiving: A Way of Life, argues the importance of understanding the needs of those individuals you are serving. Dr. Haugh observes, “Treating people as objects, as territory to be gained, is not only bad manners, but also completely fails to meet their unique needs and to respect their spiritual dignity before God.”

Organizations should value the welfare of the caregiver.  Many people who provide care to others are overworked, stressed out, and on the verge of quitting.  However, the organization that they are serving does not see this taking place.  Some organizations treat their caregivers like objects.  Caregivers suffer a variety of problems associated with caregiving.

In fact, caregivers have higher levels of stress, depression, fatigue, burnout, and lower levels of well-being and physical health.  Furthermore, 49% of females and 31% of males experience depression as a result of caregiving.

High performing organizations understand that they must continuously re-assess their processes in order to sustain success.  Yet, many nonprofit organizations and community-based organizations like churches that serve society forget about the mental and physical welfare of their caregivers in offering needed services to the area.

Here are some methods to use: (a) communicate the objectives of your organization and the desired outcomes, (b) train the caregivers so that they deal holistically with clients, (c) determine what the caregivers needs in order to perform an outstanding job and sustain this performance, (d) look for creative ways to prevent caregiver burnout and fatigue, and (f) provide an mechanism where caregivers and clients can provide feedback on continuous improvement in the caregiving area.

The pressures of life will continue to be problems for many people.  Some individuals cannot overcome these giants in life without interventions.  Caregivers play a critical role in assisting people in solving their problems.  However, today’s organizations cannot continue to take caregivers for granted.  Many caregivers are stressed out and underpaid; perhaps even on the verge of giving up their jobs in caregiving.

Therefore, this article maintains that today’s organizations must rethink their strategies for administering caregiving in the near future. Organizations that can make the necessary changes will be better prepared to sustain future success.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

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2 thoughts on “Rethinking Caregiving Strategies for Today’s Organizations

  1. Dr. Green,

    This is a timely article and it is about facing giants. Many in the workforce are dealing with caregiving and working full time. Organizations must be in tune with their employees and work with them during challenging times. In addition, employees must communicate with their employer about their caregiving situation and help the the organization develop an understanding. It is about opening dialogue and working together for the mutual benefit of the employer and employee.

    Jack McCann

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