Professional Comment

The Powerful Transition: Adult Social Care Must Prioritise Menopause Support

Helen Normoyle is the co-founder of specialist online health service My Menopause Centre. (

Finally, menopause awareness in the workplace is making headway in the national conversation, highlighted by the publication of the first all-party parliamentary group report into menopause this autumn.

The inquiry found that the majority of employers do not have menopause policies in place and called for businesses to drive change, following the Women and Equalities Committee report which said employers’ lack of support for menopausal symptoms is pushing “highly skilled and experienced women out of work”.

Around 15.5 million women are in varying stages of menopausal transition (perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause) in the UK and these women are also the fastest growing work age demographic.

Considering that vacancies in adult social care have increased by 52% in one year, the highest rate on record, prioritising support for menopausal women to attract and retain them in this sector in particular – where staff are predominantly women aged 40+ – has never been more critical:
• 82% of adult social care workers are female
• 28% are women aged 55 and over, and
• the average age is 45

The average age for a woman to go through the menopause in the UK is 51, with perimenopause typically starting in the mid-to-late 40s (it’s important to know that some women will start the menopause transition at a younger age than this and some at an older age). 8 in 10 women will experience symptoms, an average of 7 (though not all at one time), usually over 4-8 years (but van be longer – again, every woman is different). Around 7 in 10 will find at least one symptom very difficult. Unsurprisingly then, navigating the journey through the menopause transition can be physically and emotionally challenging.

Powerful statistics highlight the negative impact this natural part of a woman’s life can have on her in the workplace . Acas estimates that 2 million women over 50 have difficulties at work due to menopausal symptoms, with one third saying they feel they have to hide symptoms, while half say they still feel unable to discuss menopause in the workplace.

Highly talented, experienced women are suffering in silence at work, or are reducing their hours or leaving their roles entirely. A staggering one million women could quit their jobs because of lack of menopause support, and 900,000 have already left their jobs because of it.

And despite the issue’s increasing visibility in recent years, there is still a widespread lack of understanding around the range of symptoms that women can experience. This is particularly pertinent to those working in adult social care, when the job already takes such a significant toll on mental and physical health. The 2021 State of Caring Survey found 25% of carers as a whole said their physical health is bad or very bad and 30% of carers said their mental health is either bad or very bad.

As a result, many menopausal women working in adult social care may not even recognise tiredness, insomnia, anxiety, depression, hot flushes, or lack of self-confidence as possible symptoms of menopause.

Therefore, part of the challenge lies in improving understanding of the menopause for all adult social care employers, and women working in the industry themselves.

It’s more essential than ever that the adult social care sector provides proactive menopause support, training and guidance for all staff, flipping it from just a ‘woman’s issue’ to one of wider inclusion in the workplace. There are plenty of free educational resources out there to support this.

Because making a positive difference for menopausal women and catering for their needs will help with productivity, talent attraction and retention, and avoid the costs of retraining and hiring with the latter, as well as ultimately making a positive difference to the services the sector delivers as well as to the lives of the menopausal women working in it.

Adopting a transparent, robust and well communicated menopause policy, supported by appropriate workplace adjustments will make a positive difference (e.g. flexible and hybrid working options, free period products, menopause leave and workplace uniforms that are more breathable so women can better deal with hot flushes).

Introducing training from experts for all staff, as well as launching informal menopause support groups and menopause champions backed by senior leaders, will signal that there is open communication around the issue and help normalise the conversation.

Ultimately this is about culture change and so visible, active leadership from the very top of the organisation is a must.

Prioritising menopause awareness and education, creating a menopause-friendly workplace will not only have a hugely beneficial impact on the sector and its employees, but also on the communities it serves. There are lots of great, free resources out there to get you started, so don’t wait to make you’re organisation menopause-friendly.