Young Carers’ Awareness Day (25 January) marked a day when this often forgotten group was recognised, and there are calls for employers to ensure they are not overlooked once they reach the workplace. Contributor Christine Husbands, Managing Director – RedArc
Young carers can have roles throughout the workplace, including apprenticeships, traineeships or full time employment. Having supported employed carers for over two decades, RedArc knows that they need very specific help to take account of their mental as well as their physical health.
Christine Husbands, managing director, RedArc says: “Typically, this group will have specific issues for which they will need support if they are to remain in employment. In particular, those who have been carers for some of their childhood and teen years may be more affected than those who have taken on caring responsibilities when older.
Importantly, there are great support services available now, and so there is no need for employers to have any concerns about employing this group. In fact, as a whole, they tend to be mature beyond their years, have some really useful skill sets, such as interpersonal skills and organisational abilities that may not be present in other young employees, and from which many organisations could benefit.
However, if left unchecked, young carers may develop the following issues: Feeling isolated and withdrawn; Anxiety and depression; Fatigue; Low confidence and self-esteem; Lack of social skills (especially if they had a caring role throughout their teens and Propensity for absence due to their own ill-health or loved one’s illness
Husbands continued: “Having so much responsibility from a young age may make young carers less inclined to seek support – simply from a time constraint point of view and also because they don’t know any different – this is their norm. We’d like to see more insurers enhance their policies to support carers, and for employers to offer more support – either directly or via protection products such as Group Risk and Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs). With such a heavy burden, young carers are particularly susceptible to mental health issues, and getting early intervention can be vital here – both for the carer and for the individual being cared for.”
For example, an EAP or insurance product with carer-specific support might offer the following – (even when no claim has been made): Confidential telephone support – someone that the young carer can trust. Training and support for the employer on caring issues and for line managers. Support in how to access additional training that might be needed – especially if the carer missed out on a their education e.g. literacy, social skills. Assistance to navigate the NHS, social services and charities/support groups. Advice on how to discuss needing time off work to attend medical appointments with a loved one. Advice on home adaptations and technology for independent living for their loved one. Financial support for personal development e.g. professional qualifications, home study and legal support.
Husbands concluded: “Caring can lead to poverty if an individual has to give up work, but helping someone stay in employment is not only good for their financial wellbeing it also provides a crucial break from their care-giving responsibilities. Employers who support young carers at difficult times often find themselves repaid with years of commitment and dedication, and with more support available than ever, it is becoming increasingly easy to welcome carers in to the workplace.”