Majority of employers want social care service boost to ‘keep staff in work’ – survey

Two in three employers say they want more support from care services to help keep staff at work, according to a new survey.

Research by charity Carers UK shows most employers in England feel a shortage of support from social care services is affecting the health, wellbeing and productivity of their staff.

A previous study by the charity in 2019 found 468,000 people had given up their jobs to care for an elderly or disabled relative in the previous two years – more than 600 a day.

Of the 199 employers surveyed for the new research, two thirds said more of these services could offer practical assistance to ensure their staff with unpaid caring responsibilities are able to stay in work.

It also found that 72% of employers believe unpaid care for an ageing population is putting more pressure on staff, while 64% said it could cost them valuable employees if they give up work to look after relatives.

The study also suggested there has been an influx of requests for flexible working hours from employees due to the pressures caused by lockdown.

Two thirds of employers said they want services available outside of normal working hours and clearer information on where workers can find professional care providers.

A similar proportion (68%) said there should be more support from GPs and health workers to help carers remain in their jobs.

Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “When you’re caring for someone and you can’t get the support you need from social care services, it can become impossible to stay in work.

“Our survey shows that businesses are now having to manage the fallout of this increasingly common dilemma for staff who are juggling work and care for a relative.

“Just as childcare used to be a key issue stopping women from continuing to work, now caring is holding back thousands of people from enjoying a fulfilling career and retaining an income.”

Carers UK has estimated that 7.7 million people have juggled work and unpaid care through the coronavirus pandemic.

Dave Kirwan, managing director and sponsor of the Carers Network at Centrica, said: “The carers working at Centrica are often under a lot of pressure juggling their work and care responsibilities and many have seen an increase in their caring duties during the pandemic.

“We try to do all we can to support them as an employer such as offering flexible working, paid carers’ leave and peer support through our Carers Network.

“But in many cases their working lives would be made far easier with more practical support from social care services.”

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