UK carers are overwhelmed at pressures that come with balancing work and personal life

Millions of the UK’s carers are stressed, tired and overwhelmed at the pressures that come with balancing work with their personal commitments. A study of 1,000 unpaid carers who also hold down a job found, on average, they will start looking after loved ones for a couple of hours ahead of work and won’t finish their caring duties until after 9:30pm. At least five hours of every single day is spent actively looking after someone in their care – with just 50 minutes downtime in a usual day. Even night-times are interrupted, with carers getting up at least twice to assist those they live with. But a quarter of those polled admit their bosses are completely unaware of their personal situation, so pile on the pressure as normal. And 70 per cent are don't know of any provisions for carers within their workplace – no time for compassionate leave, nowhere to go for a bit of a ‘brain break’, and no pay if they do need to take time off for emergencies. The research was carried out by hygiene and health company Essity, which offers its 1,600 employees in the UK and ROI an additional six days paid leave if they are a carer for a friend or family member, on top of their usual allowance of annual leave. Gareth Lucy, communication director for Essity said: “For so many carers, a steady income is absolutely crucial to being able to provide a decent and consistent level of care. “Although the government is introducing the new Caring Leave Bill it only gives carers the right to five days unpaid leave per year. “We recognise that carers have enough to worry about, and not being paid shouldn’t be added to the list.” The study found, of those who have chosen to keep their affairs to themselves, 47 per cent want to keep their work and life outside separate. But for 16 per cent, the motivation is not wanting to be treated differently, while 13 per cent fear it would affect their chances of promotion and 12 per cent think key responsibilities may not be afforded to them. On a typical day, caring responsibilities will include having a conversation with a loved one and keeping them company (72 per cent), preparing food (67 per cent) and laundry (65 per cent). As well as helping them move around the home (39 per cent), bathing or washing them (35 per cent), and helping them use the toilet (29 per cent). But additional time is also needed aside from the day to day for medical appointments (70 per cent), general life admin (56 per cent), managing bills (51 per cent) and transportation (50 per cent). Unsurprisingly, half of all respondents polled, via, admitted being a carer is a full-time job in itself. And 45 per cent spend a lot of time thinking about their caring role when at work – while 52 per cent said being a carer means absolutely no time off, not even at weekends. Carrying on in a professional capacity can be hard – with six in 10 admitting they often find themselves unable to complete their days’ work as a result of their caring duties. Almost half (49 per cent) have had to finish before their contracted hours were up to tend to their loved one, and 42 per cent have used annual leave to fulfil caring duties. Personal calls during work hours (39 per cent), making excuses to leave work when needed (24 per cent) and calling in sick (14 per cent) are among the ways care work has impacted on the job. Gareth Lucy said: “Our employees have told us that it’s tough to balance your career with your caring responsibilities. “Essity’s new policy aims to create equity for those that face additional challenges outside of the workplace, while the launch of our new carers app, Caressa, will provide a simple way for carers to plan and review the care they provide.”