Assisting an elderly woman
An older adult is assisted. Photo via Pixabay

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved giving San Diego County employees up to three flex days to use in emergency situations while taking care of an older family member.

Supervisors also directed Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to expand a pilot program, first approved Sept. 12, offering an emergency childcare flex day system.

The supervisors’ actions Tuesday came after hearing an update on the Aging Roadmap, first approved in 2019, which focuses on issues such as caregiver support, safety and volunteer opportunities for older adults, and medical and social services.

Naomi Chavez, deputy director of county Aging and Independent Services, updated the board on roadmap features, including a training tool kit, safety proposals, a chief geriatric officer, digital inclusion, caregiving support and affordable housing.

Board Chairwoman Nora Vargas said the system was a good way to help elderly residents in a holistic manner, especially after seniors faced numerous challenges after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supervisor Joel Anderson also offered kudos on the report.

“I think we’re on the right path,” he said. “I think we’re doing a great job.”

Anderson added that with seniors being the fastest-growing group of homeless people,
“everything we can do to keep them in their homes, to help them maintain their life, it’s great for them, but also good for society as a whole.”

Supervisor Jim Desmond said, “As a senior, I’m happy to support (the roadmap).”

In a statement after the vote, Vice Chair Terra Lawson-Remer said the pilot program “will make life a little easier for San Diegans helping family members age with dignity.”

“More San Diegans are trying to balance holding down a job with taking care of an aging loved one,” Lawson-Remer added. “You shouldn’t lose pay just because your mom, dad or grandparent needs emergency help. By providing paid time off for workers at one of the region’s largest employers, we hope to provide a model others can follow.”

During a brief public comment period, the expanded family care option received support from Nate Wollmann, vice president of Service Employees International Union Local 221.

Wollmann said he knew of one member of the county’s Child and Family Well-Being Department who wanted to speak at Tuesday’s meeting, but could not because her mother was in hospice care.

“There are others like her who would benefit from this initiative,” Wollmann said.

Lawson-Remer’s office also said that in San Diego County, over 783,500 people are age 60 and older, according to the California Department of Finance.

By 2030, the number of county residents 60 and older is expected to increase to more than 910,000, according to Lawson-Remer’s office.

City News Service contributed to this article.