The Worker Interactive Networking (WIN) will give wireless technology to one hundred local employees who juggle work and the primary responsibility of caring for family members who have cognitive or physical disabilities. Half of the employees will be given access to an Intranet email support group for caregivers that will be established to reduce the caregiver's sense of isolation; they will also be linked to web-based liaisons at the Alzheimer's Association or to doctors specializing in geriatric physical disability issues. The other half of the employees will also have access to a remote home monitoring technology that enables the caregiver electronically to monitor the family member's activities throughout the day. The project's partners expect that the technology will help these overburdened employees manage their responsibilities, resulting in their spending less time away from the office and an improvement in their mental and physical health. Experts will analyze the impact of the technology on both groups. One important goal will be to determine whether the more expensive electronic monitoring technology is cost-effective to implement.
The WIN project has the potential to have a far-reaching impact. Current research indicates that as many as 23% of employees care for an impaired or frail elder. Many of these employees are hourly-wage workers who lose money every time they have to leave or be absent from work. Persons experiencing the strain of the caregiver role have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers. Absenteeism, tardiness, work interruptions, missed advancement opportunities, and employee termination often result when employees try to balance caring for their family members with their jobs. Companies have recognized the burden their caregiver employees have and are hopeful that technology can help lessen the strain on their employees, and therefore reduce the costs to their employees and to the company that can result. If this project produces a positive outcome, it will have a ripple effect throughout the business world, with more and more employees being willing to facilitate their employees use of technology to ease the burden of being a caregiver.
The Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged will work with Behavioral Informatics, the State Alzheimer's Association, and a local corporation.