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Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Winner 2017, The Carers UK and Centrica Best for Carers and Eldercare Award

  • Informal carers register identifies staff with caring responsibilities
  • Managers can access a range of supportive initiatives, including training, to help address the specific needs of carers
  • Practical support provided and signposting to a range of additional services

Public sector body Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is working hard to improve the experiences of its carer population. Having consulted on and established a Carers Policy in 2016, it offers a range of practical support to suit individual circumstances.

HIE has established an informal register to identify carers. All new staff have a one-to-one meeting with the HR manager to highlight the support available to carers and encourage those with caring responsibilities to identify themselves.

Managers are trained in understanding that carers have specific needs that differ from those of employees with mainstream childcare responsibilities. Line managers know carers may have unexpected emergencies to deal with and will agree contingency plans with them.

Employees can also approach the HR team, where there is a dedicated carers’ champion to raise awareness about caring issues, promote carer-friendly policies and practices and ensure equal treatment for carers across the organisation.

HIE operates a passport scheme that carers can use to document their needs at work and identify solutions to those needs. This means information can travel with them if their role or line manager changes.

In addition, carers are entitled to paid special leave, private time and space to make calls about their caring responsibilities, and a car parking space close enough to enable to them to get to and from work easily.

HIE offers both adjustment leave and short-term flexible working at the employee’s request. These allow carers to adjust to unexpected changes or a new caring situation.

Carers can refer themselves to HIE’s Occupational Health Service for advice, support and help in understanding specific conditions, medication and side-effects. The employee assistance programme also offers information and advice on practical issues that carers may face, including claiming benefits and allowances, organising short breaks, fundraising and obtaining specialised equipment. HIE additionally provides information on external sources of support.

“Having the flexibility of working hours meant I didn’t feel under pressure at any time and was able to balance work and domestic commitments while caring for my wife.”

Donnie, Western Isles