More understanding of caring is needed within the workplace as new research shows that 7 in 10 working carers have felt lonely or isolated at work as a result of their caring responsibilities for older, seriously ill, or disabled family members.
Carers UK's business forum Employers for Carers today (Tue 24 March 2015) publishes new research which highlights the isolation felt by thousands of employees who combine work with looking after older, sick or disabled loved ones.
Half of the UK’s 6.5 million carers juggle work and care with one in nine people in the workforce combining paid work with unpaid care for an older, ill or disabled relative or friend. Despite this, caring still remains a relatively hidden issue in many workplaces - 38% of those surveyed were not comfortable talking about their caring responsibilities at work. One in six working carers (16%) said that they felt isolated because they felt like they were the only person in this situation and over four in ten (43%) reported that their colleagues and managers didn’t understand the impact of these caring responsibilities.
Working carers who received support from line managers and colleagues were less likely to report feeling isolated in the workplace. This shows the crucial role that managers and team members can play in recognising and supporting their colleagues with caring responsibilities.
- 7 in 10 working carers (71%) have felt lonely or isolated in the workplace as a result of their caring responsibilities
- Over four out of ten (43%) working carers felt that colleagues and managers did not understand the impact of caring and 38% had not felt comfortable talking about their caring responsibilities at work
- The top priority for workplace support was improved and consistent manager awareness of caring issues (37%) and more flexible/special leave arrangements (again 37%)
- One in six working carers (16%) said that they felt isolated because they felt like they were the only person in this situation.
Asked the key reason for feeling alone at work over a quarter of carers (26%) pointed to a lack of understanding from their line manager about the impact of juggling care with work whilst a fifth (22%) said that using up their annual leave to provide care meant they did not have time for a social life.
Research published earlier this year by Carers UK revealed that over half of all carers (57%) have lost touch with family and friends as a result of their caring role and half admitted to experiencing problems in their romantic relationships due to caring for their partner or another family member or friend.
Ian Peters, Chair of Employers for Carers, and MD of British Gas said: “Supporting carers to remain in employment means creating an open and understanding workplace where employees can find out about the flexibility that may be available from their employer, get peer support from colleagues in a similar position and find information about practical and emotional support available outside of work. For business, the message is simple: unless workplaces provide better support for carers they will continue to see growing numbers of their most experienced staff leaving employment.
“As we know from our own experience at Employers for Carers this is not just about being a good employer; it is good for business – improving productivity, attracting and retaining talent in the workplace and reducing staff isolation, turnover and recruitment costs. This research shows that much more must be done to improve carers’ access to support both at home and at work. Employers for Carers members have easy access to best practice in policy, advice and support.”
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive, Carers UK said: “Caring for someone is part of everyday life, yet our research suggests most working carers feel alone in the workplace. Providing care for a loved one alongside paid work can be tough and made more difficult by a lack of workplace recognition.
An understanding manager, networks of working carers who can offer peer support, flexible working policies and enough practical support from care services all have a vital role in breaking the isolation felt by working carers. Business, government and society all have a role in recognising and supporting those who are managing work alongside caring for someone.”
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Note to Editors:
About the research: 1041 individuals took part in this survey; the majority were combining caring with employment (87%) but the survey also included those who had left work as a result of caring (11% of respondents). The survey was conducted online, with all information being treated in confidence.
Carers UK is a charity led by carers, for carers - our mission is to make life better for carers.
- We give expert advice, information and support
- We connect carers so no-one has to care alone
- We campaign together for lasting change
- We innovate to find new ways to reach and support carers
Employers for Carers (EfC) is an employer’s membership forum chaired by British Gas and supported by the specialist knowledge of charity Carers UK. It provides practical, ‘hands-on’, help to employers to support the one in nine carers in their workforce. Launched in 2009, Employers for Carers now has over 85 member organisations, representing at least one million employees across the public and private sectors. Member services include a dedicated website with a range of practical resources, networking facilities, model policies and case studies, resources for employers and employees and access to expert training and consultancy. For further information please visit www.employersforcarers.org.
Facts about carers:
- Across the UK there are 6.5 million people caring for a loved one who is older, seriously ill or disabled. This number is set to rise to 9 million by 2037.
- 4.3 million carers are of working age and 3 million of those juggle work and care
- Full-time carers are twice as likely to be in bad health as non-carers.An estimated 2.3 million people have given up work at some point to care for older or disabled loved ones, and 3 million have cut working hours.
- Over 1.4 million people care for over 50 hours a week.
- Carers save the economy an estimated £119 billion per year with the unpaid care they provide, an average of £18,473 per carer.
Source: Facts about carers (2014) Carers UK