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7 in 10 people juggling their job with caring feel isolated

More understanding of caring is needed within the workplace  as new research shows that 7 in 10 working carers have felt lonely or isolated at work as a result of their caring responsibilities for older, seriously ill, or disabled family members.

Carers UK’s business forum Employers for Carers today publishes new research which highlights the isolation felt by thousands of employees who combine work with looking after older, sick or disabled loved ones.

Half of the UK’s 6.5 million carers juggle work and care with one in nine people in the workforce combining paid work with unpaid care for an older, ill or disabled relative or friend. Despite this, caring still remains a relatively hidden issue in many workplaces – 38% of those surveyed were not comfortable talking about their caring responsibilities at work.

One in six working carers (16%) said that they felt isolated because they felt like they were the only person in this situation and over four in ten (43%) reported that their colleagues and managers didn’t understand the impact of these caring responsibilities.

Working carers who received support from line managers and colleagues were less likely to report feeling isolated in the workplace. This shows the crucial role that managers and team members can play in recognising and supporting their colleagues with caring responsibilities.

  • 7 in 10 working carers (71%) have felt lonely or isolated in the workplace as a result of their caring responsibilities
  • Over four out of ten (43%) working carers felt that colleagues and managers did not understand the impact of caring and 38% had not felt comfortable talking about their caring responsibilities at work
  • The top priority for workplace support was improved and consistent manager awareness of caring issues (37%) and more flexible/special leave arrangements (again 37%)
  • One in six working carers (16%) said that they felt isolated because they felt like they were the only person in this situation.

Asked the key reason for feeling alone at work over a quarter of carers (26%) pointed to a lack of understanding from their line manager about the impact of juggling care with work whilst a fifth (22%) said that using up their annual leave to provide care meant they did not have time for a social life.

Research published earlier this year by Carers UK revealed that over half of all carers (57%) have lost touch with family and friends as a result of their caring role and half admitted to experiencing problems in their romantic relationships due to caring for their partner or another family member or friend.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive, Carers UK said: “Caring for someone is part of everyday life, yet our research suggests most working carers feel alone in the workplace. Providing care for a loved one alongside paid work can be tough and made more difficult by a lack of workplace recognition.

An understanding manager, networks of working carers who can offer peer support, flexible working policies and enough practical support from care services all have a vital role in breaking the isolation felt by working carers. Business, government and society all have a role in recognising and supporting those who are managing work alongside caring for someone.”

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