The number of people needing Care is increasing
It’s well documented that our population is ageing. Medical science is keeping us alive for longer so the diseases of old age are now more prevalent and whilst there is better diagnosis and treatment, the number of people needing care, particularly those with dementia is on the increase with 800,000 people currently in the UK and 670,000 unpaid carers looking after them. (Carers UK)
Those carers are often the adult children of the person with dementia. They are likely to be aged 45 – 65 and probably working. They may have adult children of their own living at home and or have grandchildren for whom they also provide a level of care. They are the “Sandwich Generation” and they are usually very stressed. The majority are women, who would traditionally have retired at 60 to care for a parent. They are unable to do so now due to increasing costs of living and the rising age to access their state pension amongst other reasons.
Costs to businesses of caring for a loved one
Caring for a loved one, be they a parent, spouse, vulnerable adult or child is highly stressful, particularly when dealing with the challenges of navigating the health and social care systems in the UK.
Severe stress impacts on our ability to function at home and at work. It can sometimes lead to mental ill health issues, which then lead to reduced performance and productivity at work. Absenteeism levels increase as do “presenteeism” levels (when people go to work when they are really too ill to function properly). If people leave their job to care then that too impacts on a business by an increase in recruitment costs and a skills gap that is hard to fill, particularly if the employee is a mature person who has significant experience, knowledge and skills.
There are significant costs to business for absenteeism and employee retention. The reasons for those absences and retention issues include:
• Eldercare responsibilities, probably a parent who has a disease of later life, many of whom have dementia
• Caring responsibilities for a vulnerable adult – particularly if they have physical disability, learning disability or mental health issues. The Special Needs support that children have whilst in education generally finishes at age 25 leaving the family to look at longer term care in their community or a residential setting.
• Caring responsibilities for a partner / spouse with a chronic or terminal illness when their life is likely to be limited.
Here are some statistics developed by specialist agencies through research – all of which highlight the challenges that Caring Responsibilities bring.
• The costs to businesses in the UK for absenteeism and employee retention is significant. If the situation were to be addressed with solutions developed then companies could save up to £4.8 billion a year in unplanned absences and a further £3.4 billion in improved employee retention (Carers UK).
• The number of people juggling work and care is now one in seven of all workers, around 4.87 million and many find it can be a struggle to balance their responsibilities in work with their caring. (Carers UK)
Benefits to business of supporting people who are caring
By providing the right support to Carers and people with mental ill health issues, businesses will cut sickness absence, reduce presenteeism and ensure a healthier workplace. Staff morale will improve, and they will feel more motivated. Their general engagement and commitment will increase and they will be more productive, which will impact on the overall business performance. Customer service will also improve.
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