Introducing the Emory Caregiver Support Program

Written by: Audrey Adelson MSW, WLCP

December 14, 2012

After two years of research and planning, Emory University is launching a new program to support employees who are responsible for the care of an aging, sick or chronically ill adult family member. The program launches after the first of the year and includes some new additions to the Emory WorkLife website as well as the following new offerings of support:

  1. Policy changes to enhance the support of employees with adult caregiving responsibilities
  2. Increased efforts to support workplace flexibility on campus
  3. Increased resources centralized through the Emory WorkLife Resource Center (EWLRC)
  4. A partnership between the EWLRC and Emory’s Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) to expand workshop offerings to better meet the resource needs and health and wellness of employee caregivers and their families. Some workshops (where appropriate) are recorded.
  5. Increased awareness about wellness services available to employee caregivers and their families through FSAP
  6. Additional benefits to address the diversity of caregiving needs of employees and their family members


The launching of the Emory Caregiver Support Program, a comprehensive program for caregivers, is ground-breaking. Few organizations offer such support. The work completed by a university-endorsed working group was recognized in national study conducted by Donna Wagner Ph.D., a gerontologist and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at New Mexico State University, and the National Alliance for Caregiving. The article titled, “Best Practices in Workplace Eldercare 2012 mentions Emory for its “best practices in methodology and planning.” The implementation of such a program can have a positive impact on the lives of its employees and may directly reduce employee health care costs (MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs 2010).  

Research supports that employers who provide resources to support the needs of employee caregivers experience a reduced impact on productivity and associated caregiving costs, saving the organization significant amounts of money (The MetLife Caregiving Cost Study 2006). It also demonstrates Emory’s commitment to becoming an innovative leader of work-life practices, an employer of choice (theme #3 in Emory’s Strategic Plan), and one in which supports family. The program supports the retention of highly skilled workers and the recruitment of new employees by addressing the diversity of dependent care issues that exist and continue to grow in today’s workforce.


The EWLRC-led working group was endorsed by the University and charged with exploring the feasibility of enhancing employer-sponsored support to employees responsible for caring for an aging or sick adult. This work stemmed out of data that was identified in Emory’s 2010 dependent care needs assessment completed by the EWLRC and Bright Horizons Family Solutions. The data revealed that the university had already exceeded the national average (12%) with nearly 15% of its population then responsible with caring for an elderly or sick parent/relative. Data further uncovered that there was a significant number (approximately 60%) of employees that were concerned about this very issue within the next one to three years. Many of these employees also happened to be employees caring for a school-aged child, including them in what is commonly referred to as the Sandwich Generation.

The working group spent nearly one year reviewing policies, practices, programs, resources, research, and best practices within and outside of Emory. A comprehensive list of recommendations was made, vetted and most of them have been or may eventually be included in the new program to support employee caregivers.  The working group was comprised of team of experts from within and outside of Emory. This group included:

Audrey Adelson, MSW, WLCP, Work-Life and Family Programs Consultant from EWLRC

Jeanne Thigpen, Director of Organizational Development & Employee Relations

Mary Brown, MSW, President, BrownRichards & Associates

Dr Kenneth Hepburn Ph.D. Professor/Associate Dean, Research, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Core Education Director, Emory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center

Dr Monica Parker MD., Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology;

Shelly Wender, M.Ed., C.I.R.S.-A, C.R.S., Aging Resource & Education Specialist, Area Agency on Aging, Atlanta Regional Commission

Kristi Sullivan, LCSW, Senior Outreach Liaison, Wesley Woods – Emory Healthcare

Dr Paula Gomes, PsyD., Director of Emory Faculty Staff Assistance Program

Callie Curington-Weber, Chaplain & Bereavement Coordinator, Abbey Hospice

Dr Theodore M. Johnson II MD./MPH, School of Medicine Division Director, Geriatric Medicine, Director, Emory Center for Health in Aging

Lisa P. Gwyther MSW, LCSW, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Director, Family Support Program, Duke Aging Center, Director, Duke Employee Elder Care Consultation Service, Education Director, Bryan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center

Heather Durham-Nadler, CELA, Senior Associate Attorney, Law Office of Ruthann P. Lacey, P.C.

Judith Presser, Senior Consultant, WFD Consulting

If you are interested in learning more specifics about the Emory Caregiver Support Program, register to attend the program launch scheduled:

January 17, 2013
12 – 1:30 PM
Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
Room 101 

This program is recorded if you are unable to attend. It can be found on the Emory WorkLife Resource Center website under Archived Events following the workshop date. Contact Audrey Adelson (404) 727-1261 if you have any questions.