Family carers, central to sustainable care, are mostly of working age and employed full-time. Their rising numbers include many mobile workers. Incompatibility between family care and paid work is a known risk to sustainable care, but better evidence is needed of the support needed to promote wellbeing among working carers and those they support. This team’s research on Combining Work and Care: How do workplace support and technologies contribute to sustainable care arrangements is designed to inform policy and practice on the planning and resourcing of care by generating new insights into sustainable care and wellbeing through comparison of developments in the UK and other countries. Previous UK research on this topic has mostly focused on flexible working arrangements and organisational case studies. Little is known about how care leave (on which the UK has not legislated) might be introduced, or about the voluntary initiatives already being implemented by employers.
This team’s work is undertaken with Sustainable Care programme partners Employers for Carers and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and our international academic partners. It contributes to knowledge on paid care leave and voluntary workplace arrangements as sources of sustainability and wellbeing in care relations.
Led by Professor Jason Heyes and Professor Janet Fast, the team comprises Dr Kate Hamblin, Dr Annie Austin, Jacquie Eales, PhD students Camille Allard and Alice Spann, working with Katherine Wilson at Employers for Carers. Its focus is on under-researched aspects of the support needed to sustain the wellbeing of ‘working carers’: measurement of impact; the role and potential of schemes designed to improve workplace support; the impact and characteristics of statutory care leave in other countries and of their voluntary, employer-led, equivalents in the UK.
This team’s main research questions are:
- What support do working carers need to fulfil both their work and caring responsibilities? What are their highest priorities for such support?
- What constitutes good workplace support for carers in employment? How does it enhance carers’ ability to integrate their paid employment and caring roles?
- What is the impact of this support on carers, employers, care users and care workers? What are its costs and benefits for employers and for different types of employee?
- What are the key features of established/emerging carer ‘workplace standard’, ‘employer recognition’ and ‘benchmarking’ schemes; what do they contribute to wellbeing and sustainability of care arrangements?
- What are the characteristics, impact, uptake and outcomes of UK employers’ voluntary care leave schemes, and of statutory paid care leave schemes in other countries?
- What aspects of worker and carer roles are amenable to improved co-ordination of care; in what ways and how can technology enhance the quality of care relationships, or produce wellbeing outcomes?
- Which (if any) available technologies do working carers use, and how (if at all) do they assemble or modify these to provide the support they need?
- Can technological innovations offer improved support for working carers reduce stress/overload or disconnection/ fragmentation in caring situations?