We set up Caring4Elders in 2012 to raise awareness of the needs of people who provide help or care to older relatives and friends. Our aim was to help fill the support gap for people in this position by providing information and a space for people to share issues and practical solutions.
The Caring4Elders idea came about when we found ourselves without support to help us cope with a new life stage of caring for older relatives. While our parents and relations were responding to the physical, emotional and practical sides of ageing, we too were having to learn how to embrace a new role of carer. As colleagues working in the same office we realised what a difference being able to share our stories - and solutions - made to our confidence in supporting the older people in our lives. The idea of creating the Caring4Elders community was born.
As we developed the offer we became increasingly aware of the huge challenges for society of a rising pension age coupled with a rapidly ageing population. State resources for social care are shrinking and there is an increased expectation from policy makers that families should care for their own. We are now in the position where people in their 50s and 60s, still in work and often at the peak of their careers, are supporting and caring for the 80-100 year olds in their family, with all the associated impacts on individual carers and their employers. We responded by offering employers a programme of tailored workshops so that they could help their staff in managing through this new role, supporting employee well-being and reducing stress while at the same time increasing motivation and company performance. Within the wider community we also offer briefings and workshops to health care professionals and locally-based groups of carers.
We have all held senior positions in education and children's services and led quality improvement programmes. Our experience in government policy, change management and training and development, together with our personal experience as carers, underpins all of our work and supports our collective team endeavour. We believe that helping the carer's voice to be heard is vitally important and we actively work to raise policy issues and campaign on behalf of carers.
Our vision is that increased knowledge, resources and support will enable family members and close friends to make the most of the increased dependence an older person has upon them. We recognise that a successful relationship between family members and friends and the older people they are supporting will enhance the lives of both parties as well as having positive impacts on society more generally.
We aim to carry out business in an ethical way and only to accept advertising or promote products by similarly minded organisations.
To help those supporting or caring for older people to be as well-prepared as possible for their caring role by sharing information, solutions and support through the Caring4Elders website, social media and face to face support workshops.
To help employers to recognise and respond to the needs of staff who care for an older person, supporting improved well-being for their staff, reducing stress and absenteeism and aiding the retention in work of experienced staff, many of whom are at the peak of their careers.
To help carers care by publicising and discussing new policy proposals, lobbying or mounting campaigns on issues that affect older people or those caring for them and which matter to the Caring4Elders community.
Who is Caring4Elders aimed at?
Companion carers - people who provide some level of informal care or support for older people.
Health care professionals who want to provide support workshops for carers
Employers, who will have signficant numbers of staff with caring responsibilities for older people.
What do we do?
We deliver sessions which help carers support each other
We support sharing of issues and practical solutions through social media forums such as Twitter and Facebook and through our online blog.
We campaign on behalf of carers
For health care professionals:
We provide on-site sessions to support carers’ groups focused on sharing experiences, finding solutions and promoting wellbeing.
We provide briefings for employers on responding to the needs of employees who provide informal care for older people.
We deliver webinars or face-to-face bespoke employee sessions for staff who care for older people
A bit more about our backgrounds:
Sharon’s career has spanned senior roles in further and higher education, with the Department for Education and now as co-Director of a heritage consultancy company. She has one older person in her life – her mother aged 94. Having supported her, her father and her aunt in their own homes for many years, Sharon's mother now lives happily in an extra-care sheltered housing complex. Sharon also has 4 grandchildren and 2 step grandchildren and often feels in a ‘carer-sandwich’ balancing the demands of the younger and older generations together with her consultancy work. Many of her friends are in the same boat and Sharon is very aware of the crucial role played by friends and peer support networks and the help that enlightened employers can provide in supporting staff with elder-care responsibilities. Sharon lives in rural Suffolk with her partner.
Beverly is nationally recognised as an inspirational and motivating speaker on the subjects of change management, effective leadership, work life balance and women in leadership. She was a graduate trainee with the John Lewis Partnership before work in Secondary education led to her role as Principal at a Cambridge City Community College. Since 2000 she has been involved in training and developing adults working in the public sector. She spent 8 years as an adviser for the Government implementing change programmes for the school workforce and the wider public sector including arts and science.
She lives in Cambridge where she raised her family that includes three adult children and one grandchild. Over the past decade she has supported her parents and aunt throughout their 80s as they sought to maintain independence while responding to a range of practical and health issues.
Hilary's career has been in the public sector, firstly as a government economist and then as a senior policy maker and manager. Like many senior professionals she found herself combining a high pressure job firstly with the demands of bringing up three children and then, without prior preparation, trying to support both her mother and mother-in-law during the final years of their lives. This experience brought a keen awareness of the need for support for carers in this position, as well as re-directing her professional interest towards researching how policy might adapt to be better at helping older people to stay independent for as long as possible. She now works as a freelance researcher and writer, and lives in Cambridge with her husband.