850,000 people set to care for loved ones with dementia by 2020 – many juggling work and care
Dementia is moving “centre stage” as a business issue with more that can and must be done to address the care crisis now looming over the economy, business leaders will be told today.
Half of the UK’s 6.5 million carers juggle work and care – and a rising number of carers are facing the challenge of combining work with supporting a loved one with dementia. The number of dementia carers alone is set to reach 850,000 by the end of the decade.
Business forum Employers for Carers – founded and supported by charity Carers UK – today (TUES) publishes new research which highlights both employers and employees are being hit hard by a growing impact on the workforce of caring for people with dementia.
A survey of businesses shows 90% believed dementia an increasingly big issue for their organisation – adding pressure on employees, causing physical and mental health problems and leading to declined productivity and a loss of valuable staff members.
In an accompanying survey of carers juggling work and looking after a loved one with dementia, just over half said their work was negatively affected due to their caring responsibilities:
- 1 in 5 saying they had cut working hours
- 1 in 10 having to take on a less senior role.
- Only 7% said caring had no impact on their capacity to work.
Ian Peters, Chair of Employers for Carers, and MD of British Gas Residential Energy, said:
“Dementia is moving centre stage for us as a business issue – with this research highlighting the striking impact on the workplace of growing numbers of colleagues who must manage the difficult balance of work alongside caring for a loved one with dementia.
“Addressing this increasingly critical issue is, however, not just about being a good employer, it is good for business – improving productivity and retention of talent in the workplace and reducing staff stress, turnover and recruitment costs. This research shows that much more must be done to improve carers’ access to support services at home and support at work, otherwise the economy and businesses will see a growing ‘brain drain’ as skilled and valued colleagues are forced to give up work to care.”
Almost 70% of employers flagged in the survey a need for clearer, more accessible national information on dementia for their employees. Two thirds also wanted more practical assistance and specialist dementia care and support services to help ensure their employees are supported to stay in work.
The need was echoed by employees, whose views and experiences were sought through a separate, concurrent survey. When asked to identify the one thing about caring that caused the most difficulties/stress at work, top of the list was ‘I cannot be sure that the person I am supporting is getting quality help at the right time’. Employees also highlighted that flexible working and/or special leave for caring would make a difference to their work and family lives
Earlier research from Employers for Carers and Carers UK shows 2.3 million people who have quit work and almost 3 million who have reduced working hours to care.
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “Without the right support, caring for a partner or parent with dementia can be exhausting, stressful and emotionally draining. Combining work and caring can leave carers feeling like they are struggling alone, unable to access support at work or at home, because of the perceived stigma which surrounds talking openly about conditions like dementia and an ongoing lack of workplace recognition of and support with caring responsibilities for older loved ones.
“Increasingly many of us will find that looking after a loved one with dementia comes at the peak of our careers. We need co-ordinated action from employers and public services to prevent the costs to both families and the economy of carers being pushed to breaking point and being forced to give up work because of a lack of support.”