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New Support For Caring Workers And Employers

CareWise has been launched to give workplace-based help to the 1 in 8 New Zealanders who have caring responsibilities for family members who are frail, unwell, or have a chronic condition or disability.

The launch of the CareWise programme is timely as New Zealand emerges from Covid-19, with employers doing all they can to recover and grow, and caring staff dealing with extra pressures to support someone who is vulnerable, says Laurie Hilsgen, CEO of Carers NZ.

The national not for profit developed CareWise in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development, Business NZ, human resource specialists Diversitas, and employers. Almost 90% of New Zealand’s 490,000 family carers are of workforce age (15 to 64) and many struggle to juggle employment and caregiving.

CareWise is New Zealand’s answer to the growing issue of how to help carers keep working and avoid an abrupt exit from employment due to caring pressures. This can impact overall wellbeing, with many carers unable to save for retirement and experiencing decades of hardship, Hilsgen says.

Via its online tools and coaching, CareWise makes it easy for employers to ensure carers know about available support. At the moment this includes food and supplies for loved ones who may still be homebound to limit their Covid-19 risks.

The initiative also provides coaching for employers about how to avoid the business impacts of caring, which can be hidden and aren’t always well understood by business owners, managers, and human resource teams, she says.

“Simple measures make all the difference, especially now. We’re supporting employers to assist caring staff so everyone can get through Covid-19 in a healthy state.”

Employers, while preoccupied with rebuilding after Covid-19’s economic realities, are well aware of the costs of retention, recruitment, training new staff, and loss of institutional knowledge for every carer departure. CareWise helps to retain workers who are carers, while planning for and working through care-related issues, Hilsgen says.

“There is strong employer buy-in, now especially, for the Prime Minister’s call for every New Zealander to be earning, learning, caring, or volunteering. CareWise takes one pressure away by walking alongside employers to ensure carers can keep working and earning through measures such flexibility.”

To access the MSD-funded programme, employers commit to becoming a carer friendly workplace and are guided by Carers NZ to achieve this.

CareWise has been welcomed by Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni as an outcome of the Government’s Carers’ Strategy Action Plan for 2019-2023.

“The launch of CareWise will help both carers and employers get the support they need to strengthen the country’s carer friendliness at a time when this has never been more important.”

For information visit www.carewise.net.nz or call Carers NZ, 0800 777 797.

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