More support needed for working carers looking after elderly relatives
•Simplyhealth research, released today at the Labour Party Conference, finds that half of UK adults think more support to remain at work should be available to people caring for an elderly relative
Nearly half (47%) of blue-collar workers* couldn’t afford to stop working or take unpaid time off work to care for an elderly relative, according to latest research from Simplyhealth.
The latest Simplyhealth/YouGov Everyday Health Tracker results were released during this morning’s public panel debate ‘Carers and Careers’ at the Labour Party Conference, held in partnership with the Social Market Foundation. The debate explored how working carers can be better supported and included Julie Cooper MP, shadow minister for community health on the panel which was chaired by Sonia Sodha, Chief Leader Writer at The Observer.
The UK has an ageing population and with people working longer and having children later in life, it is likely there will be a rise in the number of ‘sandwich’ carers – those caring for children as well as elderly relatives.
The Simplyhealth research shows those who work full or part-time and have cared for their parents in the last three months are the most likely (42%) to have taken more than a week off work in the last year.
However, the impact on employees who have caring responsibilities but haven’t take any time of work in the last year has been significant, with 57% reporting that it has affected their own health and wellbeing.
While the majority of UK adults (58%) think the Government should play a greater role in caring for the country’s ageing population, two-thirds believe employers should offer specific support for carers of elderly relatives and that the Government should support them to do this.
When asked to choose from a list of nine types of support which, if any, they think should be made available to people caring for an elderly relative, two-thirds (65%) would like to see flexible working hours and half (51%) would like the ability to take unpaid leave from work. This was closely followed by half of people who would like to have more support to remain in work, such as through carer policies, support groups for carers and carer friendly policies.
Support that should be made available to support people caring for an ageing relative
Flexible working hours
Ability to take unpaid leave
Support to remain in work (i.e. through carer policies, recognition as a carer, support for carer groups
Care credits, similar to childcare tax free credits received by parents
More support to manage care responsibilities in work
Counselling for carers
More support to return to work
Additional paid days off work
Becoming a carer has daily challenges, not least for those who are also trying to balance their careers. From speaking to employers, we know that many want to offer support, and with our social care system under so much pressure, they can play a crucial role in backing up the health system by doing so. It’s vital that employers are encouraged to be proactive, so they fully understand the challenges faced by carers within their workforce, and are supported to be able to provide the flexibility and understanding that carers need.
To enable employers to better support working cares, Simplyhealth has developed Care for Life, an online service that provides practical advice and expert support on ageing and caring for ageing loved ones. Care for Life offers access to a range of trusted local experts to support the employees specific needs, answering questions from a specific ageing illness such as Alzheimer’s to legal and financial help when writing a will.
In addition, Simplyhealth have teamed up with technology company HealthUnlocked to develop an online freely-accessible peer-led forum so that those caring for elderly friends or relatives can share their concerns in a supportive environment. Visit https://healthunlocked.com/careforlife.
NOTES TO EDITORS
• Simplyhealth/YouGov Everyday Health Tracker research, September 2017. 1,974 nationally representative UK adults aged 18+
• *blue-collar workers denotes C2DE
• Labour party panel event: Carers and careers – a balancing act: how can we better support carers who work? Panellists were Julie Cooper MP, shadow minister for community health, Nigel Keohane, research director, SMF, Raman Sankaran, Simplyhealth and Paul Nowak, deputy general secretary, TUC
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