Caption for the image Unpaid carers, often family members, are thought to save the taxpayer £132bn a year by taking on duties that would otherwise fall to the state

How would you react if your mom walked in traffic and you were working?

Zoe Wong, a Bristolian working in an official job interview was asked this question.

Stella’s mum Stella has Alzheimer’s. Stella is currently in remission. Stella’s primary caregiver.

Ms Wong states, “It was quite shocking.” “It caused me to feel that I had less to offer as an active employee, and that I was more valuable than others. It also made it clear to Ms Wong that she should have expected to be receiving less.

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Her mother is just 66 and can only do so much for herself due to Alzheimer’s or cancer. Ms Wong is now faced with a difficult balance between caring for her loved ones and working a job.

Ms Wong states that “until you experience it as someone, you don’t necessarily understand how gravity of the role.” This can feel like explaining the color purple to someone blind.

She’s part of an army of 13.6 million unpaid carers, who are thought to save the taxpayer £132bn a year by taking on duties that would otherwise fall to the state.

She’s had mixed experiences with employers in the six years she has been part of this army.

Some bosses are able to understand what she goes through. Others have not been as understanding.

She was unable to get three hours sleep per night at her old job. “I fell asleep during a meeting and my manager pulled me aside and told me that he did not care about my personal situation and that I should not bring them to work.”

Others suggested that she create a formal statement outlining her plans for balancing work and caring for others.

Ms Wong explains that at times she was unable to complete the circle, and needed to quit her job.

It’s not all her.

Before the pandemic took hold, it was estimated that 600 people a day were leaving their job because they couldn’t balance work with caring, at a cost of £1.7bn a year to the economy.

That is why the government has expanded flexible work and allowed workers to take five unpaid days of care leave.

What can companies do to address this problem? Aviva, an insurance company, is one of many companies taking steps to ensure that unpaid caregivers are taken care of.

The company offers up to 70 hours of paid carer’s leave to its employees and encourages managers towards flexible work arrangements.

Anthony Fitzpatrick heads employee relations at the organization: “If there are stress points, you should be able to relieve them.” [for workers]It makes them feel excited, motivated and engaged. This encourages their desire to do great jobs.”

They do an excellent job and it is a bonus to the customer. That helps increase the sales. For me, it’s a business case.

He points out, too that this helps keep experienced employees who would otherwise need to move on.

Fitzpatrick believes that the pandemic made it more important for companies to adopt more supportive policies toward unpaid caregivers: “We are starting to notice an increase in registered time taken off caregiving. This shows the importance of this policy.

The population of the future is expected to age faster, which could mean that more people will need to care for their elderly loved ones.

Laura Bennett, Carers Trust’s policy chief, said that it was estimated that approximately three out of five people will become caregivers.

Another source of pressure for families is also a concern to her. Care Quality Commission warns families that they face “a tsunami of unmet demand” due to the increasing shortage of skilled care personnel.

Ms Bennett states, “We believe the solution is to have the government adequately finance social care.”

She has reservations about the government’s pledge of £162.5m to boost the adult social care workforce on top of £5.4bn earmarked for social care: “It doesn’t seem clear how that funding will reach social care and then how it will reach carers.”

Apart from the political and economic struggle over care, Zoe Wong continues to fight for her mom’s dignity and happiness.

Additionally, she is determined to help make her and the lives of others unpaid carers a little easier.

“Just because our family cares doesn’t necessarily mean that we shouldn’t be exploited.”

Fix the problem now! It will only get worse.”


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