If you’re juggling a career and caring for a partner, parent or close friend, you may feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Whether you have carers visiting during the day to help or you’re spending your time visiting care homes, the strain can feel unbearable. Dealing with emotional and physical stress can often feel like an uphill struggle as you run around trying to organise your family life and your business commitments.
The burden of care
Although you may enjoy aspects of caring for an older family member, at times, it will naturally feel like a burden. The pressure placed upon people to be carers is now growing to an epidemic level, with healthcare and social care provisions failing to join up and meet expected standards. If you have a vulnerable family member in the hospital, did you know that despite being deemed medically fit, they should not be moved if a care plan is not in place? Don’t allow yourself to feel pressured by healthcare professionals – always seek advice before you rush into moving a loved one. You may need time to consider respite care or permanent care for a family member.
Caregivers are most likely to be women.
Employers are increasingly being made aware of the needs of employees who are caregivers. The tension between doing your job and caring for those who need it can sometimes seem impossible. If you’re running your own business, you will likely be wearing many ‘hats’, so caring for a family member or friend outside of your daily work can prove challenging. Although many men are in this position, research suggests that the responsibility of caregiving still tends to fall on women – many of which are still working with full-time careers to consider. The demands on working women lead to work-life issues, with local services unable to work flexibly with families. Caring is now a political agenda item, but it takes time for new policies, procedures and provisions to come into force.
Taking leave or delegation
If you’re employed, it is worth asking your employer whether you can take ‘extended leave’, which can prove useful if you move a family member to a care home. If you work in the private sector, this is likely to be unpaid, but the public sector does have some provision for this. If you are running your own business, is there anyone you can trust to whom you can delegate some responsibilities? It might be worth considering outsourcing as many tasks as you can (and can afford), such as admin and accounts.
If you cannot outsource or take unpaid leave to focus on caring for a loved one, there is some financial support out there, which is worth investigating. This includes Carer’s Credit or Carer’s Allowance – although if you earn more than £116 per week, you won’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance (this can be boosted further by a Carer Premium or Carer Addition). Independent Age offers a range of information for carers, such as the Support for Carers factsheet.
The emotional demands placed on a carer can create frustration, worry, anger and guilt, especially if you have a career or business. Eventually, a severe stress level will take its toll on your health and emotional well-being. Therefore, seeking support groups relevant to your situation is important. Many organisations now provide online forums where you can share your concerns and experiences with others in similar positions. We would strongly recommend researching help and support for carers.
Please find a list of useful groups and forums below:
To conclude, if you are a carer trying to support a relative or friend – and juggle a busy career – the most important person to consider is YOU. And yet, we often overlook our own needs because we continually prioritise the needs of others. If you are not emotionally and physically fit enough to handle the challenges ahead, you won’t be able to support your family. By caring for yourself and your business/career, you will be better placed to care for your loved one. For further guidance, please go to our own Information and Resources page.
If there are any points in this article which affect you or someone you know, and you would like advice, please get in touch to speak to an Independent Advocate.