JetBlue’s Steven Slater, A Case For Employee Assistance Programs

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We’ve all heard the story about Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who, after an altercation with a passenger, exited the plane via the emergency escape slide with a few cans of beer. Details are now emerging that suggests Steven Slater has a history of  “alcoholism & substance abuse”, in addition to his substance abuse issues, Steven’s mother is battling late stage cancer, which has caused a great deal of stress for him and could have added to the pressures that caused him to snap.

Baby Boomers & The Sandwich Generation

With Baby Boomers overrepresented in the workforce and people living longer than ever before, the so called “Sandwich Generation” (people like Steven Slater, sandwiched between their children, grandchildren and aging parents) is juggling work and their entire family’s needs like never before.

Employee Assistance Programs

Traditionally, Employee Assistance Programs help workers with mental health and/or substance abuse problems. A growing number of programs now include Life/Work or Life Balance components which assist employees with a much wider array of concerns.

Elder Care is being acknowledged as a demanding source of stress, anxiety and absenteeism. Elder Care, similar to Child Care is requiring phone management and time off as an adult child tries to manage an aging parent’s medical, financial and home care needs – often from out of state.

As members of the EAPA we recognize how costly and confusing long distance care managing can be.  Through complimentary phone consultations, experienced Geriatric Care Managers can assess the situation and offer solutions to the adult child, minimizing their need to fly to Florida (or any state for that matter) or spend work time on the phone trying to coordinate and monitor services, especially in a crisis situation.

Employees are able to access home care services through their EAP or TPA provider. Many reputable home health care companies are in most networks and able to provide employees immediate attention and provide a home health aide, Medicare skilled home services and referrals to other trusted, local professionals.

As EAPs become more involved with the Elder Care needs of their employees, the value added benefits of working with a local provider are evident. It is a no cost addition to their resource list. The advantage of working with a company who is familiar with employee services, elder care issues and part of the local community give the employees a front line contact instead of going through a web of referral agencies.

In these economic times where it is estimated that it costs American businesses 30 Billion dollars annually in lost productivity and added medical costs for employees dealing with the needs of their aging parents, a no cost, benefit of working with an Elder Care company makes sense and saves costs for everyone.

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  4. Barbara Friesner August 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I absolutely agree! In fact, eldercare has now replaced child care as the number 1 cause of absenteeism and presenteeism (on the job distractions, phone calls, etc.) and stress. And unlike with children where there are usually “predictable” issues such as snow days and vacations – and it generally gets easier as time goes on – with eldercare, it is usually unpredictable and will generally get worse over time. That’s why it is so important for EAP’s to provide a wide range of resources and help.

  5. Stephane Hegedus August 27, 2010 at 2:47 am

    Thanks, appreciate it.