Elderly Care and Replacing the Other Workforce

Elderly Care and Replacing the Other Workforce

The “other workforce” seems either transparent or at least unaddressed by employers and politicians. After reading an article regarding workforce flexibility and care for elder relatives, I believe we missed at least a good portion of our workers. Who addresses the factory, service industries, and manufacturing groups for their needs with caring for parents or other relatives?

It seems every article addresses the workplace as if workers with aging parents could only work in an office with others around to take other work, or to work from home. I hope I missed how we address manufacturer’s workforce, but somehow the idea of working from home as an employee on an assembly line misses the headlines. The welder at the train yard, the pest control employee, the loader at the cargo dock cannot look forward to working from home. Flexible hours on an assembly line do little to support production.

I would love to think there are methods, but I can only think of a close relative that tends to two aging relatives. She, the caretaker, works as often as she can. She knows there are schedules for doctor appointments and other issues needing her attention. She adapts for those scheduled appointments, but flexibility only includes the understanding she requires periodic early release for unexpected sickness.

A friend cares for her mother, and frequently runs home during the day. She works in an office and has software at her house allowing her to work while caring for her mother. That is a great arrangement. It works for everyone. Suppose she was the lead mechanic and the only person capable of frame alignments on automobiles. How would she work other than normal hours?

When I graduated high school, I hired on at General Electric in Louisville, Kentucky. After a few years, I worked my way to a position known as “Replacement Operator”. My responsibility included knowing every job on my shift such that I replaced those workers missing for the day. This was not a “fluff” position because work never ceased in many areas so I remained engaged daily.

We need this concept on some level. Perhaps sharing employees through cooperative groups can create such replacements. The other issue about flexibility and allowing work from home is not all-inclusive. Many workers wish they warranted the attention and solutions of the office workforce, but somehow I think that solution may never surface.

At the very least, those caretakers need consideration.