Almost everybody in Australia will assume a caregiving role or require a caregiver’s assistance at some point in their lives

There are currently over 5 million unpaid carers currently in Australia between the ages of 15 and 65. Almost everybody in Australia will assume a caregiving role or require a caregiver’s assistance at some point in their lives. Balancing both your caring role and job in the workplace can be a stressful and daunting task. Having to perform unpaid care for a loved one can drastically affect your ability to maintain employment or to obtain a new career due to the large range of responsibilities.

currently over 5 million unpaid carers currently in Australia between the ages of 15 and 65

The caregiving role involves many different and diverse responsibilities that differ from person to person depending on the individual. Some carers may be able to balance out their work life and caregiving as their responsibilities might be much more routine and predictive such as taking a loved one to the hospital twice a week. Other carers will have much less predictive responsibilities to deal with and much tighter schedules making balancing both work and caring seem impossible. There are many support networks currently available to both young and old, unpaid carers in Australia that aim to help with balancing these responsibilities as well as a career.

The caregiving role involves many different and diverse responsibilities that differ from person to person depending on the individual.

Difficulties with Balance

The large diversity between unpaid carers and their responsibilities can cause many issues for both employees and employers in the workplace when arranging for solutions. Carers with predictive responsibilities will have less issues with their work hours and employment than carers with much more volatile responsibilities that could suddenly drag them away from their work. Carers with such responsibilities are restricted to occupations and jobs that are part time, casual and insecure with less benefits. These unpaid carers with difficulties maintaining solid work hours will generally end up simply leaving the workforce rather than reducing their hours any more and focus on caregiving. Taking extended periods of time off to work as an unpaid carer can affect financial security and future investments such as superannuation and retirement plans. These selfless sacrifices for loved ones can cause even more difficulties as carers take significant reductions to their income, wellbeing and quality of life.

Luckily, Australian workplaces are starting to understand the importance of supporting unpaid carers to maintain their productivity and efficiency in an aging demographic with people living for longer and longer.

Returning to Work

The caregiving role generally does not last forever and eventually, many unpaid carers will need to re enter the workforce after a long absence. After a long period of not participating in the workplace due to unpaid caring, many different barriers to entering again can arise. These past carers will need to redevelop or acquire new skills sets to re enter the workforce. This will require further training and education which costs money that just might not be available after being an unpaid carer out of the workforce for a long period of time. Luckily, Australian workplaces are starting to understand the importance of supporting unpaid carers to maintain their productivity and efficiency in an aging demographic with people living for longer and longer.

Working Towards Balance

There are many different strategies and policies that can be employed in the workplace to help you to achieve the best balance of work and caring that you can. Many workplaces today in Australia have an extensive range of options that could help you with your current caregiving roles while balancing your workload. These range from certain leave arrangements and financial assistance to supporting care related services for your loved once. Thee certain strategies have also proven to increase productivity and help employers save money on employment and increase overall employee retention rates. Don’t forget to check in with your insurance company if you have recently found yourself in a caregiving role as they may have some option to support you with a part time paid caregiver.

Flexibility

Obtaining flexible working hours is not always easy but there are many regulations in place that will help you achieve the best hours you can for your caregiving responsibilities. You must fully research and understand the current offerings at your workplace to obtain a flexible working schedule. The first thing you can do to start developing a comprehensive carer support network in your own workplace is to look through all policies and initiatives your workplace currently offers that could benefit you position. These policies could be arrangements for more flexible working hours, options to work from home, short and paid carer breaks or just more convenient workplace parking to help you get back to your loved one as soon as possible to start caring for them. Once you have a list and good knowledge of what to expect you should find anyone else in a similar position to yourself in your workplace to form a small group of people who understand you. This will help you to come forward with suggestions and changes to your employer as many people are simply too afraid of putting their jobs at risk by asking for certain “entitlements”.

Employers are becoming increasingly supportive of unpaid carers in the workplace

Use Support Networks

Employers are becoming increasingly supportive of unpaid carers in the workplace. Currently the growing problems arise around balancing both work and care are the lack of external support that is provided. Finding reliable ways to keep hospital appointments and finding appropriate people to care for your loved one when you are unable to can be very challenging. Finding and using all available support networks can help with a lot of the current problems with external support to help effectively balancing your caring and work. Remember that you are not always capable of doing everything yourself, do not be afraid to seek out help when you feel it is necessary. At Northside we provide a range of different services to help with external support you may be lacking to help with your life balance and caring, most of which are completely free. We understand the large diversity between different carers and their responsibilities and needs and aim to fulfil them to best suit your personal needs. Don’t take external support for granted! Rather than take a half day off to keep a hospital appointment for a loved one, make use of our transport and pick up service so you can keep working with peace of mind.

By John Jeffery

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