Are you supporting the Carers in your workforce?

21st May, 2013

We all know a Carer or we are one ourselves.  In fact three in five of us will be a Carer at some point in our lifetime and with the aging population the likelihood is increasing.  The 2011 Census showed that in Eden there was a 24% increase in the number of people caring for someone in the last 10 years.  1 in 8 working age people are a Carer which means that there is high likelihood that someone you employ is or will become a Carer and may need your support to ensure they can continue to perform well at work.

67% of Carers work but a recent yougov survey highlighted the difficulty for working Carers showing that 65% of Carers have used annual leave to care for a loved one and 47% have worked extra hours to make up time taken for caring.  The survey suggested that 2.3 million adults have given up work to look after an elderly parent, disabled or seriously ill loved one (Carers UK, 2013).  Carers have the legal right to request a change in their working hours to enable them to care.  Small changes in working hours can have a big impact and help the Carer juggle their work and caring role, meaning that neither suffers and the Carer does not burn out.  Flexibility is the key as Carers often have no choice when hospital appointments take place and cannot predict when the person they care for might suddenly need extra support.

The impact of caring for a loved one is huge.  A recent report on the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22478706) highlighted that 40% of Carers will suffer from stress or depression.  This is because many Carers do not have the skills and training to care for someone, they often lose their social contacts and become isolated and they do not have a break.  Who wouldn’t become stressed when you are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?

Many Carers want to remain employed while they are caring. This helps them maintain their identity and skills, enables social contact and stops them from going into financial hardship.   As employers we have to think of the skill drain that this growing Caring population could cause to the workforce if a flexible solution to work could not be found for Carers.

So what are the benefits to supporting a Carer for a business? You will retain skills and knowledge, reduce the cost of recruiting and training replacement staff, reduce the likelihood of a Carer becoming ill with stress and increase their productivity whilst at work, plus it will increase staff motivation and loyalty.  It makes good business sense.

Eden Carers is an independent local charity that supports unpaid family Carers.  Eden Carers can provide support and advice to Carers and we are happy to work with employers to find solutions in specific incidents or to discuss general policies and procedures that can support Carers in the workforce. 

For more information contact Eden Carers on 01768 890280 or email enquiries@edencarers.co.uk

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