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Fact sheet

Improving Working Lives - Carers' Perspective

Improving Working Lives Standard

The employer:

Recognises that modern health services require modern employment services:

  • HR strategy specifically mentions carers
  • Working with local partners (JobCentre Plus, Carers’ Services) to encourage recruitment of existing and former Carers into the NHS

Understands that staff work best for patients when they strike a healthy balance between work and other aspects of life.

Demonstrates leadership from the top and Board commitment to more flexible, supportive, family friendly and culturally sensitive ways of working and training:

  • A developed business case for supporting carers and appropriate levels of resources allocated to ensuring this happens practically
  • Tackling the long hours culture and compliance with European Working Times Directives
  • The Board monitors the impact of actions on making employment more carer-friendly
  • The Trust Board executive and non-executive lead are aware of specific carer issues
  • Formal staff-side structures include carer representation
  • Publicising the Trust’s commitment to making employment more carer-friendly
  • Staff Attitude Surveys include questions that identify carers in the workforce and the specific impact of employment policies on this group
  • Carers are encouraged to be open about their caring responsibilities with managers and colleagues
  • Setting up a Carers Forum to raise the profile and acceptance of carers in the organisation

Encourages managers to lead by example:

  • Evidence of managers adopting flexible working practices
  • Managers who are carers share this information with their staff
  • Training and development for managers on carer issues

Accepts joint responsibility with staff to develop a range of working arrangements that balances the needs of patients and services with the needs of staff

Finds out what working patterns staff can and wish to work:

  • Training in carer awareness for managers
  • Processes for determining preferences sensitive to carers’ needs
  • Selection for new staff takes into account specific needs of carers.

Challenges traditional working and training practices and reviews arrangements regularly:

  • Staff able to review their working patterns regularly to take into account caring needs.
  • Systems in place to ensure staff are supported to apply for legal rights to have adjustments to working patterns agreed
  • Flexible retirement arrangements
  • A range of different working and training patterns enabling staff to have greater control over times and hours they work to take into account their caring responsibilities
  • Recognition of the demands of caring when deciding on competing demands for flexibility of working arrangements by different staff
  • Reduction in staff turnover because of the challenges of juggling work and care

Involves staff in design and development of different working patterns:

  • Training for staff on carer awareness so that their involvement can be informed by a knowledge of the effect of caring on work life balance

Values and supports staff according to the contribution they make to patient care and meeting services needs

Staff across the organisation from all disciplines and irrespective of their role in the organisation or working patterns demonstrate their commitment to the organisation and feel the organisation is committed to their well-being:

  • Vacancy turnover rates improving – fewer staff have to leave because of caring responsibilities
  • Staff Attitude Survey demonstrates that carers feel their needs are understood and met by the organisation’s approach to working arrangements

Staff are treated with dignity and respect:

  • Awarded Carers’ Charter by local Carers’ Centre if available
  • Carer staff feel supported
  • Availability of a telephone in confidential conditions to enable carers to contact the person with care needs/services during working hours in an emergency

Provides personal and professional development and training opportunities that are accessible and open to all staff irrespective of their working patterns

Demonstrates appropriate investment in training for staff who have patterns of working that are not standard:

  • Budgets for training and personal development are allocated appropriately across all staff, including those who work flexibly or who have non-standard working practices because of their caring responsibilities
  • Time off and support for training and development is appropriate to the needs of carer staff

Has a range of policies and practices in place that enable staff to manage a healthy balance between work and their commitments outside work

Staff understand what policies and support are available and know how to access them:

  • HR policies readily available, refer to carers and their rights to time off in an emergency, flexible working and carers’ leave (if given)
  • Management committed to ensuring policies are understood fully by managers and staff
  • Carers’ Forum able to discuss the impact of policies on working lives in different parts of the organisation and advise on reviews
  • Tailored intranet site with HR policies and links to Carers’ Organisation
  • Provision for carers’ leave

Ensures that accessible, affordable and good quality childcare support/carer support is available to meet local needs:

  • Carer co-ordinator in place active as an advisor to carer staff and advocate for flexible working patterns
  • Consideration given to supporting specific local respite initiatives that support working carers – e.g. Crossroads schemes, lengthening Day Centre days
  • Systems to signpost carer staff to support networks and providers in place

HR policies and support are available to all staff and fairly and consistently applied:

  • Carers’ answers in Staff Attitude Survey indicate carers feel they are recognised and treated fairly