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07 Mar 2024
by Stephanie Leung

4 ways to support employees caring for ageing or sick family

The new Carers Leave Act recognises the pressures that caring employees face – but employers can do more to help

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This year will write a new chapter for carers in the UK.

On 6 April 2024, the Carer’s Leave Act will come into effect, giving carers a statutory right to take a week of unpaid leave per year for their caring duties.

Carers in the workplace are becoming more recognised, and the Act is helping to build momentum to support them - but is it enough?

In the UK today, eldercare services are too generic, rarely addressing the real needs of employees, with some benefits only offering emergency placement services.

But what carers in the workplace truly need is ongoing support, in a much more fundamental way, from legal and financial practical support, to help on how to address the daily practicalities of living as a carer, to looking for external support at a later stage.

To ensure employers help carers in their workplace, everyday real and practical support is critical, as well as removing the stigma talking about care in the workplace.

Manager training is pivotal

Most carers are afraid to bring up their situation lest it means they are overlooked for promotion. That’s why manager training is pivotal so that workplaces can approach the needs of carers and their loved ones with compassion. In addition, as employers, it is important to help carers get back to work after a tragedy or other sudden illness.

With growing needs of sandwich generation employees and an accelerated ageing population, employers can only retain their best talent by demonstrating actual advocacy and end-to-end support through the financial, legal and mental challenges that carers in the workplace may be faced with – not just a signposting service, nor just covering one aspect of emergency care.

According to Carers UK, up to 7.7 million people – many of them women - in the UK now juggle unpaid caring responsibilities with paid employment.

Balancing work and care responsibilities can be a difficult, with many carers feeling stressed, tired and struggling to manage their own physical and mental health. Around 600 people leave the UK workforce each day through caregiver burnout, during the prime years of their careers.

To retain and attract the talent of working carers, policies and offerings need to reflect not only their needs, but the needs of their loved ones.

4 ways to support employees caring for ageing or sick family members

1. Practical Benefits

Offering benefits that can help caregivers navigate the challenges associated with care are a good way to ease caring pressures.

Benefits solutions should deliver fully tailored, practical legal and financial support to carers and their loved ones to help reduce stress and ease the financial burden, making care more affordable and saving them time and money. Having in-person help navigate the social care system is also vital. The time saved this way is more practical than just self help guides or signposting.

Employers can also support caregivers through leisure activities. Painting classes or spa days can support self-cultivation and self-care, whereas vouchers can be used for anything from home-delivered meal kits to dog walking services, making carers’ lives a little easier. For example, counselling for the spouse of a dementia patient can help reduce depression.

2. Mental and emotional support

Caring for ageing or sick family members can take a significant mental and emotional toll on carers. Employees juggle the demands of work, caregiving responsibilities and their personal life. The emotional and mental strain of caregiving can also have a negative impact on an relationships, health and overall wellbeing.

How to help your employees:

  • Offer an EAP that provides counselling services for stress, challenging family dynamics and anticipatory grief
  • Consider starting a support group for employees with ageing and sick family members so that they can share their experiences and support each other
  • Encourage rest

3. Build a caregiving community

Having a space to support each other, exchange ideas and discuss the rewards and challenges of caring for others can help carers feel understood, accepted and supported.

4. Caregiver resources

Tangible, logistical support can make a big impact when carers are in need.

Carers with older or ailing family members face several challenges in finding and coordinating medical care, emotional support and housing or transport needs for their loved one.

To help with this, you could:

  • Host corporate learning and development opportunities on topics like eldercare, stress management and self-care
  • Consider offering an EAP that provides tangible services and referrals for practical needs
  • Provide access to services or resources, like KareHero, which can offer eldercare assistance, advice on funding care and supplemental access to respite services
  • Share resources in general employee communication channels to give tangible information on a continuous basis – while also normalising the conversation around caregiving in your company culture

Carers in the workplace face several difficulties in their personal lives and we can ease caring pressures to help them feel less stressed and more contented in their professional and personal lives by offering tangible solutions and benefits within the workplace.

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In partnership with KareHero

The UK’s No1 adult caregiving support service' for employees. Helping families understand, find and fund elderly care.

Contact us today