If you’re currently juggling a career and caring for a partner, parent or a close friend, you may be feeling 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 both the emotional and physical stress can often feel like an uphill struggle, as you run around trying to organise both your family life and your business commitments.

The burden of care

Despite the fact 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 both healthcare and social care provisions failing to join up and meet expected standards. If you have a vulnerable family member in hospital, did you know that despite being deemed as medically fit, if a care plan is not in place, they should not be moved? Don’t allow yourself to feel pressurised 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 giving care to those who need it can seem like an impossible task at times. If you’re running your own business, you are likely to be wearing many ‘hats’, so caring for a family member or friend outside of your daily working life 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 are leading to work-life issues, with local services unable to work in a flexible way 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 be prove useful if you are in the process of moving a family member to a care home. Obviously, 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 who you can delegate some responsibilities to? It might be worth considering outsourcing as many tasks as you can (and can afford), such as admin and accounts.

Financial support

If you’re not able to 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.

Emotional support

The emotional demands placed on a carer can create frustration, worry, anger and guilt, especially if you have a career or a business to run. Eventually, a severe level of stress will start to take its toll on both your health and emotional wellbeing. Therefore, it is important to seek out support groups that are relevant to your situation. 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 taking care of 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 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.