Carers

Couple playing dominoes

There are currently around 250,000 carers working in the NHS, many between the age of 45-64 and likely to be some of our most experienced and skilled staff.

It's helpful to understand who in your workforce is a carer, so you can support them to fulfil both important roles. Employing individuals with caring responsibilities could benefit your workforce as they may already have many transferable skills you are looking for.

NHS Employers worked closely with a diverse group of carers to understand their experiences of recruitment and employment, and to ask them to co-produce this guidance for employers. 

New carers platform

NHS England and Improvement has launched a new platform to support the thousands of unpaid carers who work in the NHS. Within this platform, hosted on the NHS People website, there is a link to information on the new carer's passport including:

  • how to access a unique code through your ICS/STP to create an account
  • how to record carer status on the Electronic Staff Record (ESR).

It also highlights top tips for managers of carers, tips for HR professionals and how to take a diverse approach. 

Did you know?

  • Under the Care Act 2014, the needs of both the person being provided with care and the carer, are considered equal in regard to their wellbeing.
  • Anyone can become a carer at any point in their lives. Currently around one in eight working adults will be carers (Carers UK). As pressures of caring responsibilities fluctuate, it may become necessary for a carer to consider altering the ways they work. 
  • The NHS has a commitment to support carers as defined in the Five Year Forward View and in the more recent Interim NHS People Plan

Attract

Think about where and how you advertise new roles.

  • Advertise in places that a wide variety of people may go, for example, local schools, colleges, community centres or places of worship. 
  • Clearly indicate that you are a carer-friendly organisation.
  • Advertise that you offer flexible working arrangements and highlight any set hours that the role requires. This could include job share, flexi time, part time etc). 
  • Highlight your reward package.
Recruit

Put the candidate at the heart of your recruitment process, making it as smooth and stress free as possible. For example:

  • be as flexible as possible with interview times, emergencies may crop up that cannot be avoided
  • ensure you can stick to the interview time given as the individual may have put arrangements in place
  • offer an open and free discussion on caring responsibilities and remember, it is okay if someone chooses to discuss this further at this point
  • confidently and accurately explain what policies and flexibilities your organisation offers
  • sign your organisation up to a Pinky Promise, which pledges to support to recruiting and supporting young carers.
Retain

  • Respect the need individuals will have to finish on time and be flexible around offering emergency leave. Time can often be made up easily.  
  • Explain that you appreciate their situation, and explain the support you can offer and the actions you can take together.
  • Consider raising awareness of the needs of carers within the workplace through a short team training exercise. This will send a clear signal to carers that there is a positive and supportive culture at work.
  • Think about having a network or forum for carers in your organisation. Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust support carers in their workplace by creating a Colleagues as Carers forum, which provides opportunities for carers to rest, away from the wards and other environments, and a chance to talk about their caring responsibilities and the support that they need.
Further reading

Employers for Carers
This is a membership forum of small and large employers working with Carers UK. You can access toolkits on setting up a carers staff network and developing a carers policy via their website, after becoming a member. 

 
NHS England's commitment to carers 
Learn more about NHS England's commitment to carers which includes results of their research with carers on the priorities they feel exist for them in retaining and gaining employment.
 
Skills for Care 
Learn more about how being a carer could impact your staff and dispel some common myths around carers, in this guidance launched by Skills for Care. 

Find out more about other community groups you may want to engage with and recruit into your organisation. 

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