Paid carer's leave & Making it Real - hopes for the Green paper
Chris Jeffery, a person with lived experience and campaigner for paid carer's leave at Mending the Gap, offers his hopes for the Green paper and a practical solution that employers adopt Making it Real.
Having been diagnosed with a rare disability in the mid 80’s I don’t believe in sticking to the rigid limitations that some think that I should live within. I must admit that this was the view of close family as well.
Through my work with Mending The Gap I’m able to show that I can help those juggling work and caring needs to be treated as equals, and my disability isn’t a barrier it’s a motivation. I may be the only person in this country with this condition, but I live with it, and have done for the past 33 years. I do what I can do to show that things can be changed for the better and having lived through certain situations this is how I coped. Those who pre-judged my abilities were wrong to do so. I may not have achieved scholastically but I have used my abilities in other ways to show that I can help others.
When I worked for a major national company some years ago I had a colleague Alan (not real name) who was disabled and he used to juggle working with caring for his wheelchair user wife Sue (not real name). Every time he adjusted his shift to accommodate changes in Sue’s care plan he would ask our managers for time off and the response was always no. In the end his health suffered severely.
With the situation of social care and NHS Services being at crisis point it’s time that Paid Carers Leave was introduced. The longer the delay, the more relentless the pressure will be on these services and the continued financial pressure on those having to rely on unpaid leave.
Through Making it Real’s focus on how to support people to live well I believe that this should be essential for working family carers to have a life of their own, free to make their own choices, have control of their working lives and be independent and not just seen as doing a service that only benefits the economy.
My hopes for the forthcoming social care green paper on the future of adult social care would be that it helps to alleviate the pressures on unpaid carers. One route to that would be for employers who hire people with lived experience and/or carers to take up Making it Real, and certainly for organisations who support working carers to encourage this. What a difference it would have made to Alan if his employer had taken up the following We statement –‘We make sure that people, and those closest to the them, know what to do and who to contact if their health condition…deteriorates’, or ‘We tell people about their rights to advocacy and representation and make sure these services are available’.
As we are getting closer to publication of the Green paper, it’s important for employers to start recognising their responsibilities to their employees who double up as working carers. We know it is good for employers, employees and the wider public sector. What do you think?