Eldercare – a provider of elderly care support, today releases new research revealing the mental, physical and professional strain that juggling a job with caring for an elderly relative is having on the UK’s workforce.
The ‘Invisible Carers’ research of over 2,000 working carers shows that less than a quarter (24%) of those caring for an elderly relative outside of work receive ongoing support from their employer – with a majority finding that support is only given during an emergency situation (47%) or none at all (29%).
As a result, many are now balancing caring duties alongside their careers – 50% have checked-in with an elderly relative over the phone, 46% have received distressing calls from their relative and 40% have taken calls from a concerned carer or family member, all during working hours.
A huge number of respondents are acting as a carer for a parent or grandparent on a daily or weekly basis (85%), and a similar number considering themselves the first response should something happen to the relative they care for (82%). The impact this is having is clear:
- 27% have taken up to a week of annual leave
- Almost a fifth (18%) have used their personal days (e.g. bereavement leave)
- A further third (32%) have considered asking their employer to work flexibly
- 15% have considered stopping work altogether
- 15% have thought about taking on a less demanding role
- 12% have considered taking a pay cut
Sue Hawksworth, Director of Eldercare, comments:
“Working carers in the UK are facing an uphill battle. Employers often take little issue if a parent has to leave work to attend to a sick child, yet there is a stigma attached to caring for the elderly which is a difficult hurdle to overcome for many employees who care for an elderly family member.”
Having a skewed work/care balance is also having a detrimental impact on the physical and mental health of these working carers:
|Feel more tired than they used to||45%|
|Frequently feel more stressed, in and out of work||44%|
|Exercise less often||33%|
|Go on holiday less often||30%|
|Feel their personal relationships have suffered||20%|
|Get ill more often than they used to||20%|
This is further exacerbated by the fact that 44% of active carers don’t consider themselves to be “carers”, despite having clear caring responsibilities such as checking in with their elderly family members in person (71%) or over the phone (65%), as well as duties like reminding them to take medication (41%).
Hawksworth continues: “Many people don’t think about themselves as ‘carers’ because they consider these duties as part of family life, when in reality they are undertaking at least a part-time carer role alongside their day-to-day job. Employers must recognise the value in keeping these members of staff feeling supported, appreciated and motivated to work, safe in the knowledge that they are able to care for their relatives – whatever their age – when necessary.”