Our Director of Clinical Services, Paul Edwards, responds to recent ONS statistics pointing to the increased emotional toll on sandwich carers.
“The challenges of sandwich caring, which involves people caring for a child as well as an elderly relative, can encroach hugely into personal lives. Recent ONS statistics point to 1.3 million people having this caring responsibility with more than a quarter experiencing depression and stress. There’s no denying that these carers, who are often in their 40s and 50s, should be afforded personal support. But are we not missing a trick by not looking at how we can be supporting them professionally too?
“In order to improve workforce wellbeing, employers across sectors have a key role in understanding the stresses and challenges faced by the burgeoning number of sandwich carers and looking at how they can better support these carers.
“At Dementia UK we take calls on our Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline from families facing the most complex stages of this condition in their personal lives. But we’re also increasingly building up awareness and support for people facing dementia in the corporate and working world. We host a number of clinics which help employers to understand the range of complexities which dementia brings and how this can impact on employees’ working lives.
“On a more general level, some steps can be put in place by employers like encouraging flexible working practices as well as having a carers policy which anticipates the challenges and needs of this particular caring generation. The urgently needed social care Green Paper could also help these carers by providing a more joined-up approach between health and social care. It is hoped that it will better recognise an ever-ageing population with long-term health conditions who are often so admirably supported by unpaid carers.
“No one should have to put on a pretence that they’re getting by at work. In the case of dementia, where more and more people are diagnosed and families affected, openness and support should rule the day.”