Drive to encourage companies to support customers with caring responsibilities

Thursday, 13 May 2021
  • Charity Carers UK launches blueprint to help companies and services support millions of customers with caring responsibilities
  • Suite of resources for carers to help manage services and put in place Power of Attorney 

Unpaid carers are finding it difficult to help manage day-to-day services such as telephone, banking and financial assistance on behalf of the person they look after.

The research is from charity Carers UK – which is today launching a blueprint in response to help public and private companies support millions of their customers who have caring responsibilities for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill.

Carers UK’s research found unpaid carers often struggle to manage services provided by both public and private companies.

It also found that 40% of carers do not have a formal arrangement in place for managing the affairs of the person they care for. The expense of putting this in place, the time it takes and the challenge of having difficult conversations with the person they care for were all cited as barriers.

Challenges accessing services

Just 7% of carers said they are not helping manage a service on behalf of the person they care for.

They reported statutory services as being the most challenging to manage when looking after someone else’s affairs. Of those dealing with the DWP and Jobcentre Plus, nearly half (49%) of carers found them challenging. 35% of those managing council services found it difficult and 32% of carers using hospital services found them difficult to manage on behalf of someone else.

Carers also had some difficulty managing accounts with private sector companies on behalf of someone else. 27% of carers using everyday banking services reported finding it difficult and 25% managing landline or mobile phone services found it difficult.

Today Carers UK is launching a Carer Friendly Company Blueprint which sets out how any organisation can embed a carer friendly approach in its culture - by reflecting carers in the company’s values, supporting staff who have caring responsibilities, as well as training all staff to understand caring and bring in practices that support their customers who are carers.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

Too many unpaid carers find it challenging helping manage their loved one’s affairs on top of providing many hours of physical and emotional support. Having to communicate with services that do not understand their needs can make life even more stressful.

With two thirds of UK adults expected to provide unpaid care in their lifetimes it is clear this is an issue that could affect any one of us. It is vital that services and wider organisations recognise the increasing numbers of carers and their role in managing accounts by introducing policies and processes that support them.

Case study

British Gas has introduced a ‘Carers Flag’ on their customer database, allowing their customer service agents to easily identify those who could benefit from the support available to them. This help includes the option to be the named nominee on the account of the person they are caring for, subject to their consent, making it easier for the carer to manage the account.

British Gas rolled out training on unpaid carers and the use of our carers flag across its customer contact workforce and third-party suppliers last year, to raise awareness of caring and how they can be identified during customer contact calls. The training also covered what is involved with caring for someone and why carers often need more support.

Matthew Bateman, Managing Director of British Gas Services and Solutions said:

Our ambition is to make our customers’ lives easier. The carers flag means our customer service teams can easily identify carers to provide the right advice and help them manage the accounts of those they care for.

We know taking small steps like this can make a big difference for both carers in our community and our employees with caring responsibilities. As awareness of the issue of unpaid caring in society grows, we need to be ready to help our customers when they need us most.

Information, support and advice is vital to help carers set up formal arrangements which can be complex. To support carers with getting a Lasting Power of Attorney, approaching companies such as banks and utility providers, and managing health and care matters, Carers UK also today launches a suite of online resources for unpaid carers.

Read our report: Carer Friendly Company: Managing Someone Else's Affairs.

Source: Carers UK