In Scotland there are around 788,000 people providing care to family or friends. One in seven carers are juggling their caring roles with an active working life. Ain 2017 suggests that more than 4 out of 10 carers (43%) give up work to care. Some carers may consider re-entering the workforce when their caring role changes or comes to an end.
Currently, three in five people are expected to care for someone at some point in their lives. A significant increase in the number of carers is forecast, due to Scotland’s ageing population, and this will have implications for employers, managers and policy makers.
The Scottish Government has made clear its commitment to supporting carers’ health and well-being. The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016, which came into force on 1 April 2018, aims to support carers' health and wellbeing and help make caring more sustainable. The Act puts in place measures to help people continue to care, for as long as they choose, in better health and to have a life alongside caring. This includes being able to enjoy a working life alongside their caring role.
NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and the Scottish Social Services (SSSC) have developed Core Principles for Working with Carers and Young Carers to inform the practice of health, social services and others with a role in identifying and supporting carers, including managers and policy makers. The Scottish Government is also working with Carers Scotland to deliver a Carer Positive award for employers who support carers in their workforce.
The aim of the original Caring Counts course is to get carers thinking about themselves, who they are, where they are now, what they want to do in their present situation and how they can work towards doing what it is they want in the future. The focus is on identification of skills, qualities and attributes developed within a caring role and what carers have to say about their diverse learning needs.
Thinking about what you really want to do in this way, and finding out how to make it happen, can really change your life. This is true for anyone.
Caring Counts: a self-reflection and planning course for carers was produced by The Open University in Scotland, with and for carers, in collaboration with the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance, together with individual carers and carer centres.
This course has been redeveloped in collaboration with the Equal Partners in Care project (Scottish Social Services Council and NHS Education for Scotland) and with Carers Scotland, drawing on the experience of a range of employers, to create Caring Counts in the Workplace. This new course reveals the reflections and experiences of participating carers, together with case studies and examples of employers who support carers in the workplace.
Reflection is a core element within the course: you’ll be able to share in the experience of carers from a wide range of backgrounds as they reflect on the impact of their caring roles. As you work through the course you will be invited to think about their reflections and circumstances and, in turn, reflect on your own experience and role as a manager or policy maker, colleague or mentor.
Caring Counts in the Workplace addresses some questions you may have about the challenges faced by the carers in your workforce, as they juggle their caring role with other aspects of their life, including work, study and leisure time. (You might even share some of these experiences yourself if you also have a caring role.)
By working through Caring Counts in the Workplace you’ll consider the implications for employees who have caring responsibilities. You’ll be invited to reflect on the implications for your own practice, for example your role in identifying and supporting carers in your workforce. You’ll complete the course by creating an action plan to develop your own practice, together with recommendations to influence policy and practice at a strategic level within your organisation.
The course will also help you to prepare for the Carer Positive award, if you are interested in applying for this, and to meet Level 3 of the EPiC core principles for working with carers and young carers.
Watch the short film ‘Caring Roles and Learning Lives’ to hear why reflection is valuable in terms of helping to recognise skills, qualities and attributes developed in a caring role. You will hear too about the importance of ‘me time’, which is not just about a break from caring responsibilities but also about taking up opportunities for personal development, including employment.
In the following sessions carers living in Scotland tell us about their experiences and how reflection has helped them. While some aspects of their stories and circumstances may chime with those of carers in your workforce (even perhaps your own), all their experiences and journeys, like yours, are unique.
What is reflection?