Building a culture of support for carers

NHS England’s Director for Patient Experience explains why Carers’ Rights Day is important to him:

There are around 5.5 million people in England providing unpaid care for an ill, older or a disabled loved one.

Furthermore, some two million people become a carer every year.

Having the right information and support at the right time can make a huge difference when you are looking after someone.

Today marks Carers Rights Day, which is about ensuring carers get the advice and information they need to make sure they can access the help and support they are entitled to.

This includes information on financial support, practical support, breaks from caring, and workplace rights for those juggling work and care.

For many of us, the workplace is an important part of our community and it is important to acknowledge that around 9% of all employees currently juggle paid work with caring for a relative or close friend, while a staggering 2.3 million people have given up work to care.

Women are more likely to be juggling work and care, something which will affect the NHS workforce in particular because of the fact that the vast majority of workers are women.

It’s important – whether you are a carer or an employer – to know about the rights carers have at work, from flexible working and parental leave to protection from discrimination.

All employers benefit from the skills and experiences that carers bring to the workplace and, as a society and economy, we can’t afford the loss of talent that comes when people leave the workforce against their will because we don’t help them manage work and caring.

NHS England has committed to building a culture that is supportive of the community of carers in its workforce. All employees can access free resources through our partnership with Employers for Carers, including information about carers’ rights, flexible working and guides explaining more about being a carer.

More information on employers for carers can be found on the Employers for Carers website.

Carers at NHS England also have the opportunity to join the Staff Carers Network. This is an online community which provides sign-posting to useful information and contacts and which also offers peer-to-peer support for those facing similar situations. By listening to and supporting NHS staff who are themselves carers, we will help the NHS become more carer-aware and effective at recognising and supporting carers.

To find out more about the support available to NHS England staff members who are carers please visit the staff intranet.

Dr Neil Churchill

Neil is Director for People and Communities at NHS England, having joined the NHS after a 25-year career in the voluntary sector. His work includes understanding people’s experiences of the NHS, involving people and communities in decision-making and leading change to improve the quality and equality of care. He has a particular focus on strengthening partnerships with unpaid carers, volunteers and the voluntary sector.

Neil has previously been a non-executive director for the NHS in the South of England, is a member of the Strategy Board for the Beryl Institute and Chair of Care for the Carers in East Sussex. He is himself an unpaid carer. Neil tweets as @neilgchurchill

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  1. Jane Sommer says:

    I know a couple of carers and quite frankly, they are heroes/heroines. It’s good that there is acknowledgement of the great contribution Carers make and the large amount of money they save both the NHS and Local Authorities by keeping people out of hospital or other supported accommodation. Part of my work duties relate to the Carers Budgets.

  2. Leigh Best says:

    Good to highlight the plight of Carers. I have been supporting Carers of Eating Disorder sufferers for 17 years in TEDSUK a local Liverpool Social Enterprise. Carers are often left alone to cope, and this can lead to relationship breakdown, stress and depression, loss of jobs, financial and family suffering.