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Jeremy Hunt calls for employers to offer flexible hours to those taking care of elderly relatives

4th September 2013

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the UK’s ageing population combined with a “dementia time bomb” mean that the people who provide unpaid care for friends or family members need to be offered more flexible working hours to support themselves.

Hunt has warned that the whole of the UK faces a "lose-lose situation" unless those who are providing this unpaid care are offered flexible working hours in their paid employment. The concern, as reported in this BBC News article, comes from too many people feeling “unable to combine caring for a family member with working”, leading the minister to call for employers to take the initiative to make changes and offer carers more flexible hours.

Employers are currently required to support parents of young children by offering flexible working hours, and Jeremy Hunt is hoping that support for unpaid carers will be equally as good for business and the economy as this support for parents has been, announcing that "it is time that the same was recognised for carers". The idea behind providing flexible working hours is that these carers will have the time and energy to be able to carry out both their paid employment and unpaid care duties.

The need for employers to help carers balance their time will soon become particularly important according to a study by the London School of Economics, which suggested that a disparity will exist between the number of older people in need of care and the number of people who are able to provide it for free in England by 2017. The study went on to predict that 160,000 people could be struggling without the support they need by 2032.

Although giving carers more flexible working hours is sure to allow them to dedicate time to both working and caring, installing independent-living aids such as stair lifts for the elderly and easy access bathing facilities can also ease the pressure of their care responsibilities, allowing people with mobility difficulties to carry out tasks independently. Adapting a home with independent-living aids is certainly worth considering as a convenient way in which older people with mobility difficulties can help themselves carry out everyday tasks, providing support in addition to help from healthcare professionals and family.

There are plenty of aids that people can choose to help them with whatever they need, from rise and recline chairs for standing up easily from a seated position to a simple handrail for providing some extra support in certain areas of the home.

Image Credit: Policy Exchange (flickr.com)