Jun 19

Caring for our carers

Posted: 10 June 2019

The latest figures suggest that 1 in 8 adults are carers in the UK, that’s around 6.5 million people. That means that, chances are, you have carers working in your organisation.

Caring without the right information and support can be tough, which is why it’s important that employers support carers in their workforce.

We’re proud that, as an organisation, Skills for Care has a robust offer of support for staff who also have caring responsibilities.

This #CarersWeek 2019, we want to share some of the things that we do to support carers, and encourage other adult social care employers to care for carers in their workforce.  

Around 13% of our colleagues have identified themselves as carers and provide unpaid care by looking after an ill, frail or disabled family member, friend or partner.

Our support starts at the beginning of the recruitment process when we provide new starters with an opportunity to tell us about their caring responsibilities. This helps us to understand their responsibilities, experiences and needs so we can arrange any support they require before they start working with us.

Our carers policy, that was developed in consultation with staff, outlines the employment rights of carers, the support available and line manager responsibilities regarding carers in their team.

It includes information about:

  • flexible working – all carers have the right to request flexible working
  •  employee assistance programme – this is a free, independent and confidential helpline that carers can use to discuss difficulties, including regarding their caring responsibilities
  • special leave – carers can use paid special leave in an emergency situation relating to their caring responsibilities.

A number of staff have adjusted their hours or working pattern through flexible working requests, which has meant they can manage their work and carer responsibilities more easily.

Line managers are often a first point of call for staff who have caring responsibilities, so we ensure that they understand how to support carers in their teams. We offer a number of resources including a handbook which outlines their responsibility as a manager and gives good practice tips about managing carers and where to go for more support.

One colleague told us:

“My line manager is really flexible and supportive of my caring responsibilities. If I need to take time off to attend appointments or in emergencies, I can either take special leave or make the time up on another day.”

We also deliver specific activities to support carers at Skills for Care. 

We send out a quarterly internal email about staff wellbeing which includes a reminder about this support.

We hold frequent ‘lunch and learn’ sessions to give carers the opportunity to share their experiences and participate in group discussions, as well as giving us the chance to regularly review the carers policy.

Staff really appreciate these sessions and one colleague shared:

“I have caring responsibilities for my elderly Mum, who lives independently, but has a number of health/age related issues. Following a number of incidents, I shared my concerns with my line manager who encouraged me to attend the carers ‘lunch and learn’ sessions.

“I found these to be extremely helpful in terms of sharing my concerns and worries with like-minded colleagues who also have caring responsibilities. The lunches are a platform for sharing thoughts, offering suggestions, or just to listen.”

To help us keep up-to-date with new developments, we’re a member of ‘Employers for Carers’ who provide resources to support organisations and their employees. Carers can register, for free, to access support and guidance from their website.

We support our carers because, first and foremost, it’s the right thing to do. But it also makes good business sense as our turnover rate for colleagues with caring responsibilities is very low. Our support programme means we keep our colleague’s skills and talents in the business while they can continue to care for their loved ones.

Sign the pledge

We take pride in our support for carers and that’s why we’ve pledged our support for Carers Week 2019 - and we’d encourage all adult social care organisations to do the same here.