· Working Carer,Carer

HOPE FOR THE WORKING-CARER

As a business owner, Director or Manager, imagine an employee booking an appointment to see you, and when they arrive, they say:

“I’ve got to resign because I’m a caring for my parents now, and I can no longer do that and fulfil my job too.”

And imagine you being able to say to them, with confidence, “I can help you with that!”. 

Just how fantastic would that be?

Because employers can really help employees in this position – not with the caring itself, but with the organisational and interpersonal skills to manage both roles.

WHAT’S THE REAL PROBLEM?

Let’s start with Stress. Stress is a physiological response to mental or emotional pressure which is triggered when specific life conditions overtake the person’s specific ability to cope. Those aren’t necessarily the same conditions that would push another person to the brink but working-carer stress has extra dimensions which can wreak havoc.

WORKING-CARER OVERLOAD

What we’re talking about here is the additional levels of stress that working-carers have to contend with, and which go way beyond the average employee’s normal experience. It’s not so much work/life balance as work/life management that they need to focus on. Triggers can come from 5 areas:

  1. Life stress:  First, there’s the base level stress of everyday life. Getting the children off to school, keeping up with running the home, commuting, work stress of a busy job etc. The person may be stretched and may feel fraught, but that’s modern life for you. You are probably already helping them with that.
  2. Physical stress:  This is to do with how the person is being physically challenged by the caring, e.g. it’s normal to be tired, but working-carers are often extra tired or even exhausted by the physicality of caring.  They don’t go home for a relaxing evening they go home to another job.  You can help them with that.
  3. Mental stress:  Particularly mental fatigue or overwhelm, which comes about when there’s just too much going on. Whether or not they’re pushed to the brink is determined by how far from their ideal life is from the one being experienced now. You can help them with that.
  4. Emotional stress:  There’s a huge amount of grief and other emotions involved in the process of caring for someone you love. Being overstretched emotionally in one area shows up in different ways at work; e.g. snappy, not able to make a decision, not joining in with team initiatives etc.  But really, it’s a sign that they’ve exhausted their inner reserves to cope. This is a massive problem and you can help them with that.
  5. Lack of intervention: Working-carers may know in their hearts that they’re stressed but either don’t know where to turn, or fail to seek help for themselves. You can definitely help them with that!

I remember, many years ago when I was first married, I got myself very stressed trying to be a perfect new wife at the same time as holding down quite a senior post. My manager at the time said something like “I don’t pay you a good salary to be tired – get a cleaner!”. It was harsh - and I’m sure it wouldn’t be allowed now - but it made me look at what I was doing and the choices I was making, and I made some changes. With new choices the problem became manageable.

HOW CAN A BUSINESS BEST SUPPORT THEIR WORKING CARERS?

To maintain their career, working-carers need extra skills to be able to cope; resourcefulness, planning, time management. They need to check in with their values and seek alignment; they need to make sure their priorities are working for them in their life; they need to rediscover ‘flow’.

We have a specialist workshop called Enabling Working-Carers that does all of this (other courses are available). What we find is that every working-carer is discovering afresh the things they need to put in place to temporarily rework their life decisions. The workshop is like a ‘user guide’ for working-carers.

You can get a description of the course here.

Statistics suggest that 1 in 8 of us are now caring for a relative. If you have a number of working-carers in your business, then training is a brilliant option because not only do they learn new skills, but they discover other people in the same situation. If you have only a few working-carers you may find it more appropriate to offer the coaching option; same material but on a one-to-one basis. We even offer train-the-trainer so you can deliver the support whenever you need to.

One more thing we’d like to share is a copy of our free guide. This is a useful guide for all Carers, that you can share with employees: The essential 5 things to put in place when you become a Carer...

FINALLY

There’s a big difference between caring for someone with dementia and helping parents out, but it’s still a stretch whatever level of care someone is giving. There’s a dreadful lack of social care out there, so let’s find a way for people to care for their relatives and still maintain a fulfilling career for as long as they possibly can.

If you have working-carers amongst your staff, we are dedicated to helping them and you.

Contact us at carolineday@wellbeingdynamics.com to see how we might be able to help.

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