Working carers – is your business doing its bit?

For a number of years now we have been undertaking a far-reaching Carers Voice project here at Healthwatch Essex, delivered in collaboration with Essex County Council.

It has seen us access and listen to hundreds of carers in a variety of ways, including focus groups and workshops, on a one-to-one basis and at events and question time style sessions with key players.

Listening to people who are caring for friends or family members who need help and support has helped us build up a good picture of what it is to be a carer in Essex and has led to us to produce a number of films, podcasts and reports highlighting the lived experience of carers.

Recently we turned our attention to carers who work and have to juggle their caring responsibilities around their jobs. We got in touch with Sainsbury’s, a large local employer, and spoke to some of the people working in their Stanway store in Colchester.

We were interested in hearing about their experiences and how work impacted on them maintaining their caring roles. We wanted to understand how their work/care life balance supported them or whether it got in the way.

As we have found elsewhere, the issue of carer identification was not evident. That is to say, none of the people that we spoke to identified themselves as anything other than a daughter, a grand-daughter or a wife.

It’s an important element, as carer identification is good for everyone. It’s good for the carer to have recognition, it’s good for the person with care needs, and carer recognition and support are part of the solution to the pressures our wider health and social care systems are under.

It’s also good for employers, who want to retain workers, rather than recruiting and retraining new staff. So, it makes sense for them to look after their skilled and experienced employees.

The employees we spoke to allowed us to film them talking about their situations and the result is a very emotional document of their lived experience. Importantly, it’s not a film about feeling sorry for carers, it’s a film about the fact that carers are everywhere; a film about the hidden everyday lives of people that we all come across on a daily basis.

It is a film about people who are pleased that they have the opportunity to care and show how much love they have and it is a film about four ladies who, in addition to their working lives, take time out to care for a family member.

Watch the film now.