New guidelines for carers could help

CARERS of elderly people in the county who are juggling a full time job with a caring role could be set to benefit from new government guidelines.The plans, which are a result of a new study have been hailed as wonderful news by Rena Mayoff from Suffolk Carers, an organisation that offers support to people looking after elderly relatives.

By Jessica Nicholls

CARERS of elderly people in the county who are juggling a full time job with a caring role could be set to benefit from new government guidelines.

The plans, a result of a new study, have been hailed as wonderful news by Rena Mayoff from Suffolk Carers, an organisation who offer support to people looking after elderly relatives.

Under the new guidelines employees could have the right to ask for flexible working arrangements to fit around their care commitments.


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Many employers now operate family- friendly policies which enable workers with children to be more flexible with their work time.

But the new study, carried out for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has found that people looking after the elderly are often more reluctant to ask employers for help than staff who look after children.

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Those taking part in the study felt that a more accommodating interpretation of compassionate leave and more opportunities to work from home would help them as well as wanting greater information about support at work and in the community.

Ms Mayoff is operation support manager for Suffolk Carers. She said some carers of elderly people have called their helpline as they were thinking of giving up work.

She said: "I always say to them to think very carefully about it. One, there is financial hardship involved and once you give up work and you are 24 hours a day caring, your life changes radically.

"There are many carers who say they wish that they had never given up."

According to Ms Mayoff one of the main reasons people consider leaving is because of the huge pressures of trying to fit in work around caring.

Although many employers are flexible with parents with young children, those who have elderly relatives to look after often find it is a different matter.

Ms Mayoff said: "People understand children because very often they have their own and whether they are caring for disabled children or not, there are always school holidays and child care issues.

"Less people understand circumstances surrounding older people, but it is going to become more common because we have a growing older population."

Ms Mayoff said that being a carer can be extremely stressful as some elderly people may develop dementia which can become an added source of worry to the person looking after them as they are constantly anxious about what is happening while they are at home alone.

Other studies have shown emotional effects of caring such as tiredness, stress and anxiety can have strong effects on employment because they force employees to change jobs or leave work.

Therefore companies were suffering because of poor staff morale, low productivity and unnecessary recruitment and retraining costs.

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