Finding Balance: Caregiving and Working

Trying to care for a family member or friend while maintaining adequate job performance can be challenging. In British Columbia, 70% of its one million caregivers are working full or part-time.

In a bi-monthly newsletter published by the Caregiver Support Program, Cassandra Van Dyck’s article “Finding Balance: Caregiving and Working” shares some great advice and resources for at-home caregivers. Below are highlights of some of the great tips and resources. Read the full newsletter in PDF form and find much more resources and upcoming events and activities.

Asking for Help

Employers are far more likely to offer support and accommodation if they understand your situation. If you are struggling at work, make an appointment with your employer or human resources manager. Explain your concerns and limitations and try to offer solutions. If you are having a hard time finding the words, try the following phrase:

“I have been providing care for my spouse (or friend/mother/father) for a while and am noticing it’s affecting my ability to do my job. I would like to explore some options with you to see if there are adjustments I can make so I can work to the best of my abilities.”

Sharing the Load

When caring for a loved one, there will always be something more you can do. It is important to know where to set your boundaries and how to get help so you have a better chance of feeling present at work and be able to take care of yourself. If there are other friends or family members that can help, arrange a meeting with them to discuss sharing tasks. Create a calendar of appointments and split up driving, so you don’t have to miss work as often. Look into respite options. Some facilities will host your loved one for days or weeks, while other services can provide adult day programs or home visits.

  • Seniors Peer Support North Shore Neighbourhood House (NSNH): a peer support program for seniors, where volunteers and resources are available for seniors to talk about life challenges and changes. Call: Lorna Harding at 604-982-8333
  • North Shore Volunteers for Seniors (NSVS): peer support and programming for seniors include chair exercises, computer support, and walking groups. Call 604-922-1575.
  • Adult Day Programs (VCH): focused on health, social stimulation, and therapeutic recreational programs in support group settings. Clients attend for many reasons, including caregiver and family respite, waiting residential placement, health status monitoring, and more. Call 604-983-6700.
  • Lotsa Helping Hands: an online calendar that helps helpers coordinate tasks and appointments for loved ones.



Knowing your rights, resources, and exploring options with your employer can be helpful, but practicing self-care will help you cope more effectively with the daily challenges of working and caregiving.

Try spending ten-twenty minutes of your lunch break outside:

  • Go for a walk, or just sit on a bench without distractions and take in the world around you.
  • Eat slowly and savour the various flavours.
  • Call a friend that makes you smile.
  • Spend five minutes writing down everything you are grateful for.
  • Play an instrument or sing along to a favourite song.
  • Take a bath before bed.

Spend just a small amount of time every day doing something that makes you happy.

Admitting you are struggling is often a very hard thing to do, especially when you need to speak to an employer. Remember that everyone has (or will have at some point) a loved one who needs care. Reach out when you need support and take advantage of available resources.