Carers UK has launched a blueprint to help companies and services support customers with caring responsibilities.
Research by the charity revealed that unpaid carers are finding it difficult to manage day-to-day services provided by both public and private companies, such as telephone, banking and financial assistance on behalf of the person they look after.
It also found that 40% of carers do not have a formal arrangement in place for managing the affairs of the person they care for. The expense of putting this in place, the time it takes and the challenge of having difficult conversations with the person they care for were all cited as barriers.
Just 7% of carers said they are not helping manage service on behalf of the person they care for.
They reported that statutory services are the most challenging to manage when looking after someone else’s affairs. Nearly half (49%) of those who are dealing with the DWP and Jobcentre Plus, said they found them challenging.
While 35% of those managing council services said they found it difficult and 32% of carers using hospital services said they found them difficult to manage on behalf of someone else.
More than a quarter (27%) reported difficulty managing everyday banking services with private sector companies on behalf of someone else.
Carers UK has launched its Carer Friendly Company Blueprint which sets out how any organisation can embed a carer friendly approach in its culture by supporting staff who have caring responsibilities and training all staff to understand caring and bring in practices that support their customers who are carers.
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: ‘Too many unpaid carers find it challenging helping manage their loved one’s affairs on top of providing many hours of physical and emotional support. Having to communicate with services that do not understand their needs can make life even more stressful.
‘With two-thirds of UK adults expected to provide unpaid care in their lifetimes, it is clear this is an issue that could affect any one of us.
‘It is vital that services and wider organisations recognise the increasing numbers of carers and their role in managing accounts by introducing policies and processes that support them.’
British Gas has introduced a ‘Carers Flag’ on their customer database, allowing their customer service agents to easily identify those who could benefit from the support available to them. This help includes the option to be the named nominee on the account of the person they are caring for, subject to their consent, making it easier for the carer to manage the account.
British Gas rolled out training on unpaid carers and the use of our carers flag across its customer contact workforce and third-party suppliers last year, to raise awareness of caring and how they can be identified during customer contact calls. The training also covered what is involved with caring for someone and why carers often need more support.
Matthew Bateman, managing director of British Gas Services and Solutions said: ‘Our ambition is to make our customers’ lives easier. The carers flag means our customer service teams can easily identify carers to provide the right advice and help them manage the accounts of those they care for.
‘We know taking small steps like this can make a big difference for both carers in our community and our employees with caring responsibilities. As awareness of the issue of unpaid caring in society grows, we need to be ready to help our customers when they need us most.’
Information, support and advice is vital to help carers set up formal arrangements which can be complex.
To support carers with getting a Lasting Power of Attorney, approaching companies such as banks and utility providers, and managing health and care matters, Carers UK has also launched a suite of online resources for unpaid carers.
Photo Credit – Josh Appel