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NKY Chamber panelists urge businesses to prioritize accommodations for caregivers


"It's not a family issue, it's a business issue," says Dr. Meg Hensley, senior director, student wellbeing and support at NKU.

Accommodations for caregivers are becoming just as important as medical and dental benefits for workers looking for a job or trying to stay in the job they have, advocates say.

In fact, caregiving is the second largest factor for keeping people out of the workforce, as this Washington Post article reports. Retirement is first.

"Workplace flexibility is essential," says Anne Wildman, associate director for aging and disability services for Northern Kentucky Area Development District. She was one of three panelists at the NKY Chamber’s Eggs ‘N Issues focusing on "Solving Caregiver Challenges in the Workplace" Tuesday.

"Flexible work schedules allow an individual to be with that loved one at critical times and it often keeps them from having to reduce hours at their job or quit or take an early retirement," says Wildman.

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Wildman says one in six people in the workforce are taking care of older adults.

Northern Kentucky University's Meg Hensley oversees seven different departments and learned early on flexibility helps productivity. This could involve allowing employees to work from home when a child is sick.

"It's almost like a pilot program," she says, "because once people see that it's working they want to adopt it too."

Other accommodations could include no meetings before 9:30 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m.; extended paid parental leave; and discounts on childcare. At least one person at this Northern Kentucky Chamber event wanted to know about after-hours childcare. Learning Grove's Shannon Starkey-Taylor said some centers are starting to expand their hours.

LISTEN: Tough choices between caregiving and careers during the coronavirus pandemic

"CVG has asked for it. St. Elizabeth had questions about that as well," she says.

Starkey-Taylor credits St. Elizabeth and Toyota as being very accommodating to workers caring for children or older adults.

The panel says there are many resources including these:

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.