If you are a working caregiver, your company may offer an EAP – an Employee Assistance Program. Many employers offer this benefit because they realize that you have many demands and stresses put on you outside of your work life that impact your job and it’s in everyone’s best interest if they help you cope.
However, like me, you may have overlooked your EAP.
I went to a lunch-n-learn at my company that outlined all the benefits an EAP has and I was blown away. I kept repeating in my head as the speaker was talking ‘I wish I knew about all of this a couple years ago!’
I left the session and went immediately to a couple family caregivers I know at work to share what I learned so that they could take advantage of some of these resources or at least be made aware of their existence.
EAP is one of those widespread benefits that is ‘out there’ and I think people think about the obvious use – counseling for them self – the employee. But even when I was picking up more and more caregiving responsibilities and completely overwhelmed I didn’t consider that EAP was for me.
I believe a huge problem with family caregivers is they don’t even know that they ARE family caregivers! I know I didn’t use that term. I would google for terms like ‘help with parents’ or I picked up on the term ‘sandwich generation‘ somewhere but I didn’t know I was a ‘family caregiver’.
Now that you know you are a family caregiver, you can dig into the EAP benefits that may be available to you.
Types of Benefits that May be Included in your EAP
Caregiving Related Benefits
If you would like to talk to someone 1-on-1 in your area about your specific issues, you can receive usually one to five face-to-face visits with a trained professional in your area per issue. This means you could take one huge umbrella issue like adjusting to being a family caregiver and break it into multiple EAP issues.
For example each of these topics is an issue: grief, stress, relationship difficulty, sleep problems, setting boundaries, balancing work and family, anxiety, etc.
Besides 1-on-1 counseling, you can also receive help from your EAP in these areas related to caregiving and eldercare:
- Help with navigating Medicare/Medicaid
- Researching in home care, assisted living, hospices, rehabilitation, and adult day cares in your area.
- Counseling for anyone in your household
- Transportation Services
- Grief Support
- Caregiver Support Resources
- Elder Law Attorneys
- Meal delivery
- Home Safety
- Geriatric Case Management
- End of Life Resources
- Alzheimer Support
I asked our visiting EAP representative if the person we are caring for can receive these services if they don’t live with us. He said if it is worrying me as an employee and I’m involved in the decision making process, then EAP is available.
His simple answer was ‘When in doubt, call.’
Other EAP Benefits
Besides Caregiving, your EAP may be able to help you with these challenging topics:
- Pet care
- Child care
- Identify Theft
- Special needs care
- Locate a birth parent or siblings
- Education topics such as school profiles, internships, financial aid, tutors, and scholarships
- Tax preparation resources
- Mental health & substance abuse counseling
- Career development & testing
- Legal & Financial Questions
I know, right!? I too was blown away with all the untapped services available to me.
It makes sense though. Our employers want us to be less distracted at work and help us limit these distractions by offering assistance where they can.
It’s a win-win.
How to Take Advantage of Your EAP
Most likely your employee Human Resources department internal webpage will have a link to their EAP program or you can ask an HR or Employee Benefits co-worker.
A toll free number will be provided that is confidential and available usually 24/7. You can use this service an unlimited number of times.
Again, because the EAP is managed outside of your company, your boss and co-workers are not involved or aware of your EAP contact.
When you talk to the licensed clinician over the phone, you explain your issue or situation and request an appointment or request the resources you need.
Now that you have been informed of this underused health & happiness benefit, consider how EAP can help relieve some pressure on you.
If your employer doesn’t currently offer an Employee Assistance Program, share this link with your human resources department to provide them some information on this benefit.
Look up your EAP contact information and create a contact record in your phone so you have it when you need it.
Share this post with someone who is overwhelmed right now and could use some assistance.