Let’s talk about technology and working carers
A lot of interesting and important work around working carers is currently being done in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, much of it is published in Dutch. So, I decided to go directly to the source and talk to the experts. During my two-day trip in October I spoke to advisors of the Dutch government, researchers in governments agencies, non-profit organisations, and universities, and senior academics. My journey took me from Amsterdam, to Utrecht and Bilthoven, to Maastricht and finally to Rotterdam, showing me beautiful cities, friendly and hospitable people – and lots of bicycles.
I learned that, compared to the UK, the Dutch social security system provides people with more opportunities for care and support, meaning that they are less reliant on charities or privately funded care to address their needs. Attempts are also being made to strengthen community care, although experts stressed that a lot still needs to be done to fully realise the policy commitments into practice. The Dutch term for combining work and care is “werk en mantelzorg” Compared to the UK, working carers in the Netherlands don’t just have the right to request flexible work or other accommodations to enable them to care but employers are obliged by law to grant these requests. This can of course create problems, especially for smaller organisations, which might find it harder to accommodate requests than large companies. In any case, the law is on the side of the employee.
As part of my PhD project, I have conducted two scoping reviews: one on the challenges of combining work and care and potential solutions and one on technologies currently used by working carers. Part of the methodology is to present the findings to experts in the subject areas and get their feedback. The experts I talked to in the Netherlands provided me with valuable comments and guidance for the further development of my findings and the later stages of my project. As technology has the potential to transcend borders, it was very important for me not only to get feedback from UK experts but from other countries as well. Additionally, I learned about Dutch projects which are concerned with similar issues and which it will be very valuable to connect with in the coming months.
The crisis of care, which the Sustainable Care Programme aims to address, is not just a national issue. It is thus essential to reach out, share and collaborate, and embrace the expertise of other countries.
Alice is a PhD Student working in the Sustainable Care programme. Click the image below to learn more about Alice’s work.