Below is a story from a member of staff from the Pioneering Care Partnership, telling their story about how they are a working carer. They highlight their challenges as a working carer, but with the support of the PCP's Carer Friendly Employer Policy and their colleagues, how they are able to balance the two.
"I have worked for PCP since April 2021. Between that time and August 2022 I was the point of contact as carer for emotional and practical support for both my parents who were in their early 60’s. They lived locally to me, whereas my brother lived further down the country. They were living with a number of long-term conditions, didn’t drive, had been shielding as vulnerable since the start of the pandemic and were quite isolated because of this. I would quite often use my wellbeing time during working hours to take them to hospital and other medical appointments.
"In March 2022, my mum collapsed at home with an infection, and I was contacted by my dad. The infection impacted on her mobility and speech which she is still living with. In June 2022 my dad collapsed at home with a different infection, this time contacted by my mum. On both occasions I contacted my line manager who gave me great support to be able to leave work and get some emergency paramedics and follow on support, hospital visiting as well as looking at what my needs were for my own wellbeing and workload. Between June and August, my dad’s health steadily declined whilst my mum was still recovering from her own ill health. I continued to support them with what they needed including support from GP to come for a home visit, sourcing specialist equipment, trips to hospital for tests, which I juggled around work. "Sadly, my dad passed away in August 2022 meaning my mum now lives alone. I was able to take special leave, get details of Employee Assistance Counselling and spent a lot of time supporting my mum, particularly throughout those first few months, which I did around my working role. All of this was with much support, empathy and understanding from the team around me and those wider across the organisation. "Now I remain in a carers position for my mum and I am named as a support as her speech & hearing impairment means communication can be difficult. She has an emergency contact device she wears in case of any accidents whilst home alone with myself listed as the point of contact, next of kin so I may get called upon for practical and emotional support and anything urgent to keep her safe. "Although it has been a difficult time with lots of challenges, I can see that my mum has steadily recovered well, although not completely, from her own infection and been empowered to get some adaptions and equipment to help her continue to have some independence, which is very important to both her and me. "The new Carer’s policy and enhanced allowance at PCP will help me be able to ensure if my mum is experiencing difficulties, I can confidently speak up about what’s happening and be able to help her, with support and backing from those around me at work and take some carers leave if required.
"If I could give any advice to someone who has started to become a working carer, it would be to speak up and tell those around you about your circumstances and don’t be afraid about asking for support. Being a carer means having a vital role for someone, however, to do that you also need to look after yourself and your wellbeing which will be easier knowing you can and will be supported by those around you."
The Carer Friendly Employer status is granted by Durham County Carers for organisations that support employees who are carers, their additional needs and wellbeing. PCP is proud to be recognised as a Carer Friendly Employer through the charity’s prestigious approach to recognising unpaid carers.