The evaluation of a project that explored helping carers in employment has been published and there’s encouragement for the country’s carers who want to be part of the world of work.
The Government-funded and independently evaluated project, which ran from 2015-2017, looked at what works to support carers to remain or return to the workplace.
Known as the Carers in Employment (CiE) project, it took place in nine local authorities, who were encouraged to develop local solutions to support carers to remain in or return to work; work involving employers was found to be vital to the project’s success.
The evaluation reports that, out of the nearly 3,000 carers who took part, CiE sites supported nearly 60% to stay in work. It’s hoped that the findings of the independent evaluation will make an important contribution to ensuring that carers’ needs are reflected in future employment-related carer policy and practice.
There are a complex set of challenges when supporting carers to remain in or return to the workforce, but the CiE project highlighted the importance of raising the profile of working carers as a group in the workplace.
CiE helped both employers and employees to benefit from using existing opportunities, such as the right to request flexible working. The project has also shown that initiatives like this can add value to the working practices of small- and medium-sized enterprises; this is because they are less likely than larger employers to have established HR policies and practices to support working carers.
The evaluation found that those carers who received more comprehensive and intensive support were more likely to report benefits. Emotional and practical support led to increased morale and carers said they felt less isolated. Advocacy and support worker services provided by the project were reported to have helped working carers cope better at crucial 'tipping points' or domestic crises that otherwise were likely to have had a more detrimental effect on maintaining the balance of care and work. The project also helped carers and employers to improve their awareness of the existing local available help, including local voluntary provision and welfare benefits.
The project raised employer awareness of the realities facing working carers, encouraged more supportive workplace cultures and reported that there was reduced conflict between staff over work adjustments for carers.
Some employers said that the project had resulted in the introduction of carer-friendly HR policies and practices; typically the encouragement of flexible working arrangements and the introduction of new guidance for line managers on working and caring. Employers reported the benefits of increased awareness of working-carer issues, knowing where support was available and pointing them in the direction of staff to who can help.
The nine Carers in Employment locations were:
- Cheshire West and Chester.
- North Somerset.
- North Tyneside.
- South Gloucestershire.
- Staffordshire and Stoke.