Member of the Week - Connecting Carers

Highland Community Care Forum (HCCF) has been in existence since the early 80s. At that time the organisation delivered its support to users of community services through ten Local Fora. Today the organisation is more concise in its support to Carers via 3 services, Connecting Young Carers (5-18 years old), Connecting Carers (support for Adult Carers) and Highland Carers Advocacy. At Connecting Carers their aim is to ensure unpaid Carers are not caring alone, are acknowledged and supported and have access to information they need to carry other their caring role. Connecting Carers now has a team of 23 staff.

Inverness Chamber spoke to Roisin Connolly: “My role in the business is the Connecting Carers Manager. I have been with the organisation since May 2015 and witnessed and embraced many of the changes that have helped shape what the service is today.”

We asked Roisin why Connecting Carers would like to take advantage of this member of the week opportunity: “Connecting Carers would like to use this opportunity to raise awareness of the services that they offer to unpaid carers across the Highlands.”

Roisin would like to raise awareness of  Carer Positive, a Scottish Government funded initiative: “Developed with the support of a strong partnership between private, public and voluntary sector organisations in Scotland, ‘Caring for Carers’ was listed as one of the Scottish Government’s ten manifesto commitments for Carers. The aim of the commitment was to ‘recognise those employers’ who offer the best support to Carers, allowing them the flexibility they often need to continue work alongside their caring role.”

Why should your business get involved: The peak age for caring often coincides with the peak of an individual’s career – 1 in 5 people aged 50-64 have caring responsibilities. From a business prospective, the wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise that this age category possess is almost irreplaceable. Employers and business will not want to lose valuable members of the team as this will potentially be replaced with a recruitment challenge and added pressure to those often left to ‘back fill’ while the ‘ideal candidate’ is found. Often small adaptations to the ‘working week and environment’ can result in positive outcomes, ensuring that a member of your team with a caring role can remain in work, can continue to be socially connected, financially stable and contribute to the success of your business. In Scotland over 170,000 have given up work due to their caring responsibilities with a huge financial and wellbeing impact on the majority of these individuals.

Becoming a Carer Positive Employer will enhance your reputation as an ‘employer of choice’ for the growing numbers of people in the workforce and wider labour market who might need to work in a more flexible manner, thereby recruiting from a wider pool of people with valuable skills and experience

The Carer Positive process is aimed to be clear and straightforward, based on a simple self-assessment process, with employers describing how they meet the criteria expected at each level of the award. Where possible, this should be accompanied by evidence of their policies/activities. There are 5 key areas to the self-assessment, Identification of Carers, Policy (Carers are recognised within your companies HR policies), Workplace based support (including external support), Communication, awareness raising and training (Carers and their needs) and Peer support. The award has 3 levels Engaged, Established and Exemplary.

Locally, Connecting Carers can support you to achieve the Carers Positive award by offering external support to those staff who have a caring role but  also internally regarding awareness raising, training and supporting line managers to understand what it means to be an ‘Unpaid Carer’ and the importance of remaining in work. Nationally, Carer Scotland deliver this initiative on behalf of the Government.

We asked Roisin if she would share Connecting Carers business plans for over the next 12 months: “To continue to raise awareness of the support for Unpaid Carers through engaging more with the business community throughout Highland.”

Roisin told us what Connecting Carers value most about their Chamber membership: “We value the networking opportunities and the range of events that are available, it is a fantastic resource.”

Roisin provided her top-tip for other Chamber members to maximise their Chamber membership: “To attend the networking events, connect with people and build important relationships.”

Facebook: @connectingcarers
Twitter: @HighlandCarers