Caring for friends or relatives is part of daily life for many, and employers as well as their employees have much to gain if the needs of carers become part of corporate responsibility
Many of us are caring for an elderly parent, a disabled or seriously ill loved one, or a neighbour. In some instances, this is for a short, intense period. For example, when a friend or relative is hospitalised and then in convalescence, and needs our help. In other cases, caring may extend over many years or even for your entire life.
Often we don’t think of ourselves as a “carer”. We are just doing the best we can to look after someone we care about. Indeed, I wouldn’t have described myself as a carer – in my case for a 90-year-old mother, still determined to look after herself in the family home 160 miles from my own home.
In turn, my mother had patiently nursed my late father as he became increasingly disabled and immobile. She never described herself as a carer. She was simply fulfilling her marriage vow: “in sickness and in health”. Like Moliere’s Monsieur Jourdain in The Bourgeois Gentleman, for all those years, “speaking in prose” without knowing it, we are often “carers” without ever knowing it or acknowledging it.
At any one time, one in seven employees within any workplace in the UK will be carers – and...