Meet Rachel- a working Carer

My name is Rachel, I am in my early 50’s and a Carer for two members of my family. An adult stepson who has Mild Learning Disability (MLD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I was in a partnership business with my husband successfully running for more than ten years. This suited my Caring role. Covid and the changes in the economy hit us hard leading me to consider part-time work. I was attracted to working with my employer because it was clear from the outset that they were a Carer Friendly Employer. I had never seen this before and was instantly curious. The project was perfect for my skill set and decades of experience. I could work from home, work flexibly with my hours, all of which made it attractive. The interview process was clearly set up to get to know me and understand what I could bring to the project. This friendlier approach enabled me to be open about my Caring role from the start.   

Rachel, with her husband Martin

Three months into my job my husband was diagnosed with an aggressive Cancer. Our world and family life changed dramatically overnight. Due to the normalising and valuing the caring role within the organisation, I felt able to reach out for a 1-1 with my manager and had incredible support from her and the wider team. I was trusted to reflect on my own needs and manage my workflow accordingly, with the team stepping in if needed. There was a clear message that my family life must come first and trusted my work ethic, knowing I would not want the projects to suffer due to my circumstances. I able to step back from in person work because of shielding and was covered by team members. I was able to manage my workload and calendar around medical appointments, and moments of feeling vulnerable or fatigued. New solutions to meeting our targets were discussed and actioned together.  

As a household we lost our income over night, I was now the main income provider. My manager checked that we were accessing wider support and ensured I knew the support available to me within our organisation, including reminding me of the healthcare package provided. Our Carers Policy and menopause Policy was so helpful, it is clarity provided reassurance that my wellbeing was at the heart of the company. Due to all of this, I was able to increase my hours. In addition, because of their SMART four-day week, was promoted to a full-time senior manager. This was astonishing to me. That in a crisis, I was not only able to maintain my work but gained a promotion. This is a testament to these various aspects coming together to support me emotionally, and financially. I am now passionate about how Carers can be supported in the workplace so employers can not only maintain but attract valuable staff. For me, working is a much-needed normality and respite.   

Rachel with her family.