London School of Economics and Political Science, Commended 2013, The E-ON Best for Carers and Eldercare Award
Sector: Education/ University
The London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE, describe themselves as “interested in innovative and effective ways of supporting employees with caring responsibilities, including eldercare.” Recognising that openness at work about having a caring responsibility is important, they have worked through their carers network to raise the profile of employees who are carers too. Through measuring staff requests for reductions in research outputs, they say that they are able to see, “that academic employees are being more open and their managers more supportive about caring for adults.”
LSE has put into place a number of measures aimed directly at carers, and, in recognition of the fact that caring responsibilities have an impact on the wider family, some of these are available to the partners of LSE employees too. For example, partners of employees are able to attend the regular ‘Balancing Work and Being the Carer of an Adult’ training course.
Carers are directly supported through policy provision: leave taken for caring reasons is taken into account and is used when reviewing work output and career development. This recognition that caring responsibilities (both short and long term) can disrupt established working patterns and affect performance levels is evidence of a lifecycles approach towards employees which is welcome and sensible, working with employees to manage difficult circumstances.
Carers are able to access one-to-one help and advice from HR and have a number of resources provided for them that they can draw on: counselling, carers toolkits, employees’ rights to time off information, the carers network plus signposting to external support if necessary. A Yammer group for carers has been set up so that carers can informally ask for and share experiences of caring. In addition, specialist advice is being brought in by LSE for their employees. Macmillan will be offering training in September 2013 on the cancer journey and some of the challenges faced by people at work who are living with or caring for someone with cancer. The Alzheimer’s Society will also be holding an event for staff and students to provide practical advice on caring for someone with dementia.
The success of the carers network is crucial to the development of strategies supporting carers at LSE. Raising awareness of the issue of carers at work is vital to help managers understand how they can best manage someone who has a caring responsibility, but it also provides a sense of community and reassurance for carers who might otherwise feel isolated. As one carer, after a network meeting said: “It was helpful recognising the pattern of emotions that I and others were going through and realising that it’s normal human behaviour.”