Caring for our carers

Holly

Today, there are 6.5 million people in the UK caring for an ill, frail or disabled family member or friend, unpaid. Many of these individuals don’t even see themselves as carers. We’re using national Carers Week to put our carers in the spotlight by recognising the outstanding contribution they make.  Here, we find out from one of our young carers, Holly, about the challenges she faces, and the support that’s been put in place.

Holly’s story

Holly is one of our Low Risk Underwriters. When she fell pregnant with her second child, she had no idea what was about to unfold.

“My daughter Esmae had her screening and audiology testing at six weeks old. The tests revealed that she had a hearing impairment. I was in shock, and didn’t know what to think, or where to turn. I didn’t know the first thing about hearing impairments, or even know anyone with a hearing loss.”

Holly then spent her maternity leave researching hearing impairments and attending weekly medical appointments to see if Esmae had any other disabilities. Then, when it was time to return to work, she wasn’t sure if she’d even continue with her career, and considered becoming a full-time mum.

“ It was only when I sat down with the health visitor and Esmae’s teacher of the deaf, and talked through what I did on a day-to-day basis to support Esmae’s additional needs, that I realised I was a carer ”

Feeling supported with flexible working

Besides finding a nursery qualified to sign that had space for both her daughters, Holly’s line manager Andrew, suggested flexible working.

“I do three long days at work from 8am to 6pm (nine hours) instead of a seven-hour day, and then spend the rest of my week cooking, cleaning and playing with the children.”

“Andrew supports me by letting me to choose when I need to take time off (carers holiday/unpaid leave/emergency dependant leave). I use my monthly one hour development time learning sign language, and by helping the Working Carers Network hub at our Northampton site.  I’m also being supported to work flexibly so I can attend the British Sign Language course I’m due to start in September.”

“ He always makes sure my wellbeing comes first. If there are additional pressures at home, or if everything’s getting on top of me, he gives me extra time to complete things. For any emergencies, I’m free to leave immediately, and then report back later. ”

Holly has also received support from Northamptonshire Carers, an organisation Nationwide has partnered. They’ve just awarded us Level 2 of their Carers Accreditation Scheme for Employers, acknowledging the work that we’re undertaking to support our employees.

A week in the life of a carer

Holly has always worked part-time at Nationwide to get a work/life balance, yet apart from the usual ‘Mummy Duties’ that come from having two daughters, after Esmae was diagnosed with her hearing impairment, it’s meant Holly taking on additional caring duties.

“ As a carer, I maintain Esmae’s hearing aids – cleaning them and checking the batteries – and work with her on speech/language and sign language. I also chase-up and book appointments for all the medical sessions we regularly attend. ”

Positive results

“I’m so pleased as Esmae is now only marginally behind with her development, and at two is starting to both talk and sign. Her big sister was four in May, and not only helps her little sister with her speech, but also basic signs with her too.”

Outstanding contributions

Do you know a carer that deserves recognition for the outstanding contribution they make to their family or community? Then why not put them in the spotlight this week via our social media channels. Don’t forget to use #Carers2017.

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