Case study: NHS Lothian.

Carers are actively encouraged to discuss their caring responsibilities with their line manager, and managers are asked to consider who in their team may have a caring role out-with the workplace and offer appropriate support. Awareness-raising events also encourage employees to identify themselves as carers.

Services include confidential counselling, clinical occupational health and staff physiotherapy, as well as sign-posting to local carer organisations. A dedicated intranet site sign-posts employees to a range of carer resources and the carer newsletter is circulated to all employees two to three times a year. Stories on Facebook and the intranet highlight the importance that the organisation places on staff who juggle paid and unpaid roles and the support available to them. These have formed the basis of a poster campaign that was distributed across clinical and non-clinical sites.

A closed Facebook group is being set up to enable peer support between carers. A special leave policy includes carers leave. This is for up to one working week’s paid leave, which can be extended as appropriate. It also includes a range of flexible working. An online learning resource is being developed for managers to encourage them to think creatively and flexibly, as well as reinforcing the benefits to the organisation of supporting carers.

Illuminating Ideas

  • 20+ lunchtime roadshows for employees since 2014, supported by the local carers’ organisation.
  • Monthly lunchtime carer surgeries piloted in a hospital canteen run by a carers organisation.
  • FAQs developed to illustrate common carer problems and solutions.
  • Caring responsibilities are taken into account when applying for employee parking permits.
  • Links between sick leave and carers leave is being explored.

The Judges’ Spotlight

“NHS Lothian takes an inclusive and proactive approach to carers. Managers are encouraged to think creatively about solutions for carers. They also talk about reaching the ‘invisible workforce’ so support for carers is tailored for particular groups of employees. Communication about carers is sent to all employees which means it is mainstreamed into the organisation.“

‘I work part-time and care for my son who has complex needs, which is very stressful. I have felt supported from day one by my manager and colleagues. There is a drive to raise the profile of carers, which reflects the ethos of the organisation in recognising the need for a healthy work-life balance.’

- Miguel, Information Analyst

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