If you, or the person you support, works in a paid or voluntary capacity, you will be thinking about telling your employers. You might be worried about how the employers will react, particularly if the person with dementia wants to continue working, or if you, as a care partner, increasingly need to take time off. You may need to ask for accommodations or changes to your working schedule, for example, to enable you to support the person with dementia on an ongoing basis.
Talk about your caregiving responsibilities with your employer and have open discussions about your requests for accommodation. If possible, have these discussions well in advance of when you require the time away from work. Be creative with your employer to develop a flexible plan that has reasonable and practical solutions for all involved. Plan regular follow up meetings with your employer to discuss changes or issues as they arise in your work-life balance
Here is an example of how Ellen managed her situation as a care partner to her parents:
Last winter, Ellen’s dad was diagnosed with dementia the same week her mother fell on the ice and broke her arm. Her parents needed her support. Living a few hours away meant that Ellen had to make some changes in her work and life to provide the care her parents required. After meeting with her supervisor at work, they decided that Ellen could work 4 days a week, every other week.
Ellen told us that, “The schedule was busy at times and the extra driving wasn’t always convenient, but this change allowed me to live with my parents on a part time basis so that I could support them. My supervisor and I met often to talk about how the new change was working for us both.”
While it was not always easy, Ellen made the most of her situation.
If your company has a human resources (HR) department, the HR staff might be able to help you understand your rights at work and help you talk to your manager about your caregiving responsibilities. If you are a union member, contact your union representative about collective agreement terms that may apply to your situation.
You may also wish to talk with colleagues at your work place about your role as a care partner.
- To learn more, you can read “A Guide to Balancing Work and Caregiving Obligation” from the Canadian Human Rights Commission for suggestions about building a flexible work arrangement with your employer. In this document, they discuss your right to work as stated by the Canadian Human Rights Act.
- If you are interested, there is more information for people with dementia on ‘how to talk to their employer’ in another section of the website. The Canadian Charter of Rights for Persons with Dementia states that people living with dementia are entitled to the same human rights as any other person in Canada.