Responding to the needs of long term care employees who are paid to care for residents at work, AND provide care to their loved ones at home (“Dual-Dose Caregivers”), has become a major concern as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the pandemic has disrupted everyone’s life, for employees with responsibilities for children and aging family members, care demands have been extraordinary. As evidenced by research out of the Harvard Business School, the demands are extreme, and the need for changes in management practices in response to these demands is paramount for employee satisfaction and well-being.

The implications for employees working in the long term care sector are even more profound. Issues of staff shortages and employee retention are critical in this sector. With levels of employment for at-home caregivers dropping well below the national average during the pandemic, this trend should be sounding alarm bells in the nursing home field.

Examples of leadership responses to these new challenges are emerging across many sectors.

While remote work has minimal impact on leadership practices for long term care, there are some leadership approaches to this phenomenon in non-health care sectors that translate well in the care sector.

Talking to employees who are in the home care role, and acknowledging the challenges, may provide a crucial connection in relation to the leader’s sensitivity and care. Also, adopting a mantra of “surviving” rather than “thriving” may be seen as more responsive and respectful of employee mindsets at times of crisis and employee burnout.

As the providers of care for our residents, acknowledging the dual-caregiver role of employees requires heightened sensitivity on the part of leaders in today’s long term care environment. Taking a page out of the playbook from other sectors, and responding to the needs and concerns of dual-dose employees, should serve our long term care sector well.