Jun 17

Caring for our carers

Posted: 15 June 2017

Our Head of Human Resources Ruth Stickler reflects on how Skills for Care supports our colleagues who have caring responsibilities.

For Skills for Care how we support our colleagues who having caring responsibilities is a real issue for us as around 16% of them have identified themselves as carers and provide unpaid care by looking after an ill, frail or disabled family member, friend or partner.

For us this support starts at the beginning of the recruitment process when we provide new starters with an opportunity to tell us about their carer responsibilities. This help us to understand their responsibilities, experiences and needs and arrange any support they require before they start their new role with us.

We have monthly wellbeing communications that are circulated organisation wide and we use those to signpost the support we offer working carers. More than that we actively encourage colleagues to speak with either our Carers Advocate or their manager if they develop new caring responsibilities or their situation changes.

During Carers Week last year we organised a carers networking event which a representative from Carers UK attended to give working carers the opportunity to participate in group discussions and share experiences.

How we support our carers

Throughout 2016 our HR Team spoke with colleagues who had identified themselves as carers to gather intelligence to help refresh the support offered to both carers and their line managers. We wanted to provide toolkits and policies that were fit for purpose and valuable to our colleagues.

This helped us develop our current support pack for colleagues which includes:

  • Skills for Care’s carers policy
  • support information for carers including separate information for carers and their line managers
  • details on carers legal rights for both carers and their managers
  • managers handbook
  • carers checklist
  • information for people who are caring for someone with cancer
  • A ‘Day in the life of a Skills for Care carer’ with articles written by our colleagues highlighting how they provide care and how we support them to do so.

To help us keep up on new developments we are a member of Employers for Carers who provide resources to support organisations and their employees. Our carers can register for free to access support and guidance from their website.

All this support would mean noticing if we don’t listen to our colleagues and their changing needs. So we have supported a number of carers by adjusting their hours or working pattern through flexible working requests. This has meant they can manage their work and carer responsibilities more easily.

We support our carers because, first and foremost, it is 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 get on with caring.