As a benefit adviser, Candace Shelton is always on the lookout for opportunities to extend her firm’s capabilities and add value without breaking the bank. “Our clients are looking to us to bring them different innovative solutions,” she says.
One such example is a caregiver support system that is now serving more than 900,000 employees. The technology platform, which helps working families that are struggling with any number of challenging life circumstances, comes courtesy of Torchlight, a pioneer in cloud-based, caregiving benefit solutions since 2014.
“We have been doing a lot more forms of advocacy with our employer clients, and this is a really unique one,” says Candace Shelton, director of national clinical practice for Conduent Human Resources Services, which provides employers with consulting, technology and administration solutions. “At some point, we’re all going to be caregivers facing unfamiliar situations, whether it’s a child who needs additional resources or a sick and aging parent.”
More often than not, she says responsibilities associated with being a caregiver overlap with work time. “So creating an environment that supports workers and their families just really makes sense,” according to Shelton.
A recent survey by Northeast Business Group on Health and AARP included caregiving on a list of 10 top priorities for employee health and wellness benefits. Most employers predict that it will become an increasingly important issue among employees in the next five years, according to the research.
Torchlight’s service “allows brokers and advisers to extend their portfolio and bring a new level of intelligence to their employer clients,” says Adam Goldberg, the company’s founder and CEO. His firm delves into specific caregiving challenges with “a technology approach that essentially acts like a digital advocate that can help provide a self-serve model to head off 90% of the issues.” He says a backstop of hand-holding enables users to navigate “with some nurturing” through nuanced circumstances that require human involvement.
It features a dynamic recommendation engine that personalizes and guides caregivers to targeted content and advocacy strategies, helping them find and access the right tools and resources for the challenges they face. There’s also an intuitive interface for navigating the platform and other resources available to caregivers.
The platform calibrates on a local level a variety of information pertaining to caregiving needs. For example, that may involve special education regulations on a state-by-state basis to determine eligibility for services in public schools and early intervention programs. Areas for further examination could include autism, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder or learning disabilities. Whatever issues are involved, Torchlight serves as a conduit to an employee assistance program or behavioral health provider.
The SaaS caregiver platform fits a growing emphasis on family-friendly programs in a technology-driven society, Shelton believes. It also makes sense from a goodwill and loyalty perspective, as well as a way to help reduce absenteeism and boost productivity, she adds.
Shelton knows firsthand how time-consuming it can be to research complex topics, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, and emotionally overwhelming. A member of the so-called sandwich generation, she has a child with some special needs and parent with terminal cancer. She’s also a registered nurse, which makes her appreciate the clinical component of this caregiver service.
Her recent discovery of Torchlight’s service came upon chasing down a client’s request for caregiver resources. Although that employer hasn’t yet signed on, she expects that the service “could be included in their employee benefit package in the future.” She’s also actively pursuing connections with other clients.
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