Carers Week and the importance of research

Featured article - 06 June 2016
By Jenny Collieson, SCIE's Senior Information Specialist & Prevention Library Project Lead

Head-shot of the author, Jenny Collieson, SCIE's Senior Information Specialist & Prevention Library Project Lead

My dad died recently – at the grand old age of 90 – still enjoying life despite his advanced cancer diagnosis and continuing to live in the home he had owned for more than 50 years, latterly with live-in carer support. Hosting his 90th birthday party in March was a long held goal which he enjoyed celebrating with champagne, cake and a room full of friends.

I feel grateful to have had my dad in my life for so long and really fortunate to have been in a position where I was able to commit with the support of my employer to spending two days with him every week over the past six months. This enabled me to travel the hour long journey to his home, coordinate practical support and spend time just being together.

Coincidentally at the same time I had just started work on a new project at SCIE working with the Open University on utilising carer-related research and knowledge. A comprehensive scoping review of carer research will lead to the development of a digital information resource hosted by SCIE in 2017 and linked to our Care Act implementation resources.

My post as a senior information specialist has not only given me valuable knowledge in how to navigate the social care system and access the right support, but also allowed me to work flexibly in order to accommodate my role as dad’s main family carer.

Many people care for a relative or friend as a natural part of that relationship and find as I did that caring can enhance relationships. However, without proper support it can also lead to ill health, poverty and social isolation. Carers Week seeks to highlight the many challenges carers face and promote carer friendly organisations, communities and employers.

Carers UK highlight that around three million people in the UK workforce having caring responsibilities - two million full-time, and one million part-time. Lack of support in the workplace and the challenges of combining work, care-giving and often commuting distances to provide care, present barriers to remaining in employment for many carers.

SCIE is currently involved in managing the delivery and evaluation of a two year pilot programme as part of the Carers Strategy – the Carers Employment Project, which is exploring what works to help carers remain or return to employment and how businesses can provide more support to employees with caring responsibilities

With an estimated three out of five people likely to become carers at some point during their lifetime, it is clear that there are economic and social benefits to supporting carers in meeting the challenges of staying in work alongside a caring role.

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