In light of the Tories’ manifesto to give workers the right to request time off to care for a relative, Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc Nurses comments:
Carers have been the Forgotten Community for too long and we’re very pleased to see them acknowledged by Government. Typically, it is the primary patient that is catered for under group or individual insurance policies, but it is those around them that also need help.
It is estimated that 6.5 million* people in the UK are carers. With the sandwich generation, many more people are now carers in some capacity, so this figure is expected to rise significantly.
There is very specific support that this group needs which takes into account their mental health as well as their physical wellbeing.
Whilst flexible working arrangements can help carers juggle all their commitments, they also often need ongoing help from someone specially trained who understands their situation. We have found it’s important that the support is delivered from someone seen to be independent – either from their employer or their family. And it’s important that the support is provided by someone long-term, from the same named contact who can really get to know the carer.
Typical feelings this group will have include isolation, inability to cope, loss of confidence, frustration and guilt; these can affect their personal life as well as their working life. We regularly see carers affected, from those looking after everyday situations, through to those dealing with catastrophic changes, such as a dependant suffering a life-changing illness.
When carers get the right help they are better able to cope with other aspects of their own life including their work.
We would like to see employers investigate the support that is available, either directly or increasingly within protection products such as Group Risk and Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs).
And we would also like to see more insurers look at how they can enhance their services to support carers; some have been quicker than others to incorporate such additional services to support their offering, and have found their propositions greatly enhanced, utilised and valued.
The most important thing is having someone to talk to who has plenty of time to listen to their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes other services – ranging from talking therapies such as counselling, through to practical support such as arranging respite care – can also make a big difference.
So it makes good business sense for employers to get behind this; and as insurers embrace a holistic approach to look after health and wellbeing, they also need a proposition for carers. We hope Government see this policy through, and we’d like to see progress in this area regardless.