Why Family Caregivers Are Unemployable, and Why You Should Hire Them Anyway

A Few Good MenTruth is, I’m unemployable. At least that’s how I feel on days like the one I had yesterday. Yesterday, I had to take my father to a 10 a.m. appointment. I left my house at 9:30 and got to his assisted living facility at 9:45. He wasn’t ready. I called the man we were meeting with and left a message that we’d be 15 minutes late and call my cell if that didn’t work.

We were 20 minutes late and the office was locked and dark when we got there. I left another message saying I’d really like to meet and then took my father to the lab for a blood test; we were 9th in line. After the technician drew my father’s blood, we went back to the office of the person we had planned to meet at 10; maybe he could fit us in. This time we had success but by the time we finished that meeting and I returned home, it was after 12. I had a quick lunch, answered some emails and went out again. I’m having my kitchen remodeled and needed to choose a counter slab by the end of the week or risk pushing the project out past the holidays. I got back home and sat down to work at 2:15.

I have days like this several times per month. And on the other days I take calls – from the lab about the results of the blood test, from the doctor about adjusting my father’s medications based on the blood tests, from the pharmacy about the change in meds, from my kids when they get out of school in the afternoon, from the builder.

And, I have a whole list of appointments still to book for me: the dentist, the eye doctor, my primary for an annual physical, the dermatologist. It’s important we caregivers take care of ourselves, right? Everyone tells us that; even our managers. But do they mean it? Would they if they realized how many hours out of the office taking care of ourselves represent?

Last year, I hired a woman in her early 30s. “Are you sure you want to bring her on board?” someone asked me. “She’ll be pregnant before the year is out.” “So what?” I remember thinking. “She’ll take a few months off and be back more efficient than before. It’s me you should be worried about. My parents take up a lot of time.” But I didn’t say it out loud. Women need support at work; not more naysayers.

But I can’t hold it in anymore. I can’t hide it or fake it. The truth is my life, as a as a working daughter with parents who need me, as a working mother with kids who need me, as a human being with a life that sometimes happens between the hours of 9 and 5, spills into my work. Who would want to hire me? Who wants a 9-5er who doesn’t get started until 2 in the afternoon on some days?

Smart managers, that’s who. Here are seven reasons, that despite our messy lives, family caregivers make excellent employees.

  1. We get sh*t done. My daily to do list might include: take Dad to the doctor, consult with his team to adjust his care plan; run an errand; choose paint colors and light fixtures; help study for geography test; edit corporate blog post; write corporate blog post; call client to answer a question; interview a candidate; consult on Algebra homework; draft a new business proposal; schedule business travel; do an interview for a podcast; stop a bloody nose; call insurance company and go to a networking reception. The personal tasks might happen during work hours and the work tasks might happen during personal hours. But done is done. Family caregivers get sh*t done. Share on X

  2. We don’t take no for an answer. That man my father and I had a 10 a.m. appointment with? He didn’t return my calls when I called to reschedule. It turns out he wasn’t even in the office when we were supposed to meet. But I found him and I made that meeting happen. Because that’s what it takes. Family caregivers don't take no for an answer. Share on X

  3. We’ve got mad negotiation skills. That countertop I needed to pick out? The urgency was due to the fact the fabricator forgot to hold the original slab I chose. Guess who negotiated a much better price per square foot when I went back yesterday? I did because I asked for something in return for the billable hours I was missing at work. Family caregivers have mad negotiation skills. Share on X

  4. Focus: We OWN it. How else do you think we can get work done in a doctor’s waiting room, on a crowded commuter train, or in the middle of a construction site when we work from home? When we see a window of opportunity to get something done, we home in and make it happen. Focus is a working caregivers middle name. #workingdaughter Share on X

  5. We’re creative. Need some fresh ideas? Our creative fountain overflows. Why? Because we have so many life experiences to draw from. Is your marketing campaign targeted toward busy parents? We know busy parents. Are you developing a medtech product to improve the lives of seniors? We know seniors. Trying to master the latest social media platform? Our kids showed it to us last night. What else do you need? A family caregivers life experience makes them a well-rounded employee. #workingdaughter Share on X

  6. We’re detail oriented. We handle meds. Enough said. Why do family caregivers make great employees? They are detail oriented. Share on X

  7. We’re loyal. We know we’re not easy to manage – at least not for sticklers who’ve memorized the employee handbook. We require a level of flexibility that only the bravest are willing to offer. But if you have our backs and give us the parameters for success and the leeway we need to get it done, we’ll have your back too. Why else would I have been willing to work an 11-hour day the day before yesterday? Family caregivers are loyal. #workingdaughter Share on X


6 comments on “Why Family Caregivers Are Unemployable, and Why You Should Hire Them Anyway”

  1. Kay Lynn Reply

    Excellent points and I think they also pertain to working parents. I’m disappointed someone wouldn’t want to hire a woman in her 30’s. If she’s not a good choice due to age, than what chance does a 50-something have!

    • admin Reply

      Absolutely they apply to working parents. Pretty much, they apply to anyone with a life! Thanks for stopping by Kay.

  2. Alana Reply

    I wanted to shout from the rooftops “tell them, sister!” I don’t have quite the same caregiving thing as you have right now; but I can see it right down the road.

  3. Patrice Kohn Reply

    Great article! Thank you for sharing the reasons why we family caregivers would make great employees! My skills & talents would be a huge asset to a company. Being a 57 y/o professional w/caregiving responsibilities does have its challenges. Work balance is the key! Thanks again for the article.

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