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- PublicationColliding worlds: Family carers’ experiences of balancing work and care in Ireland during the COVID‐19 pandemicThe COVID-19 pandemic public health and social protective measures imposed globally resulted in partial or full closure of key services and supports for people with a disability, chronic illness or age-related dependency. This caused huge disruption to care provision and family carers were relied upon to assume this care at home. Many family carers, including those in employment, found themselves navigating additional care responsibilities without ‘usual levels’ of support from family, friends, work, school, day care services, homecare and community services. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family carers, their employment and caregiving responsibilities, through the lens of the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory (Hobfoll, 1989). Adopting a qualitative research approach, sixteen family carers (14 females, 2 males) who were in employment prior to the onset of or during the pandemic, participated in an in-depth, semi-structured telephone or online video interview between June and September 2020. Interviews lasted between 45 and 100 minutes, were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A thematic analysis of the interview data identified four main themes: colliding worlds; navigating unchartered waters alone; opportunity despite adversity; and the relentless unknowing. Findings indicate that the onset of the pandemic resulted in the sudden loss of valued resources, which disrupted routines and caused care and work life domains to become intrinsically intertwined. Consistent with the main principles of the COR theory, adapting and transitioning to different ways of working and caring with depleted resources and supports, generated considerable stress for family carers and impacted their wellbeing. The implications for employers, healthcare providers, policy makers and other key stakeholders are considered, to enable family carers to successfully reconcile work with care and protect their wellbeing, as the pandemic continues to unfold and in the event of future societal crises.
Scopus© Citations 17 316
- PublicationThe role of line managers and co-workers in mediating informal flexibility for working family carersPurpose: Our paper identifies the enabling mechanisms through which carer-friendly informal flexibility is enacted in the workplace and explores whether these enabling mechanisms help working carers remain in the workforce and avoid taking leave from employment. Methodology: Twenty-six working carers in Ireland were interviewed. Interviews were semi-structured, and questions were formulated around three broad themes: participants’ caregiving role; their employment situation; and the services and supports available to them. Findings: The findings highlight three mechanisms through which carer-friendly informal flexibility is enacted: reassurance and pre-emptive support; carer advocacy; and idiosyncratic deal making (i-deals). In the absence of informal flexibility, disruption to working arrangements is likely in the form of intermittent periods of leave from the workplace. Research limitations/implications: Greater diversity in the profile of our study participants could be helpful, particularly the inclusion of more male carers and those working in the private sector. Practical implications: A greater emphasis on informal, locally negotiated, flexible working arrangements would facilitate carers to remain in employment. Originality/value: Our research explores the enabling mechanisms through which carer-friendly informal flexibility is enacted. Our study uncovered the pivotal mediating role played by line managers and co-workers in supporting carers to secure access to these informal flexible working arrangements.
- PublicationSubmission to the Department of Justice and Equality Public Consultation on Flexible WorkingAs part of Future Jobs Ireland, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State David Stanton TD, launched a public consultation on flexible working to inform the development of a national flexible working policy. The consultation is seeking the views of employees, employers, trade unions and the general public to help inform the future employment policy. In the face of changing demographics and an aging population, the provision of flexible work arrangements is becoming an increasingly pertinent issue for family carers who balance paid work with caregiving responsibilities for a person with a disability, chronic illness or frailty. This submission, by the CAREWELL team, aims to highlight the importance of flexible working options for these family carers.
- PublicationA Scoping Review to Map the Evidence on Family Carers Who Combine Work with CareIntroduction: Family carers provide a wide range and significant amount of assistance to relatives, friends and neighbours who are ill or disabled. Statistical data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicates that at least 1 in 10 adults is involved in informal, and most often unpaid care. About half of the proportion of those who participate in a caring role combine this with paid employment and balancing both roles can be a challenge. Consequently, there is increased demand for the introduction of measures to reconcile paid work and care-provision. Unfortunately, much remains unknown about the lives of family carers who balance work with care. Aim: The present work endeavours to illuminate this topic by scoping the extent, range and nature of available evidence on ‘family carers who are in paid employment’. Methods: Steps followed when carrying out the scoping review included: i) Clarifying the research purpose and question; ii) Identifying relevant research studies from various electronic databases, reference lists of identified studies, and grey or unpublished literature; iii) Selection of studies by two independent reviewers; iv) Collating data using an excel data sheet; and v) Analysing and summarising data using qualitative thematic analysis. Results: Two-hundred-and-sixty-three publications were incorporated, and these comprised a variety of research study designs, which were based in different countries. Six themes were emergent from the scoping review findings. The first was the compound carer’s experience who is a working family carer; subthemes relevant to this group were coping, health outcomes and employment outcomes. A subsequent theme was health outcomes for working family carers; health outcomes were subdivided into mental health, physical health, and health behaviour outcomes. The theme on the profile of characteristics for working family carers comprised of subthemes indicative that caring was largely a gendered activity, with age as another important variant — caring increasing at older ages. The economic impact of caring on working family carers was an eminent theme with a clear personal economic impact and national economic impact. A significant finding was the theme on conflicting priorities among working family carers; subthemes related to this were either work-to-family conflict or family-to-work conflict. The most important theme in the present work was that on employment outcomes among working family carers with subthemes characterised by employment participation, employment-related disadvantages, work-place provisions in place for this group and positive employment impacts. Finally, it was clear that there were support services for working family carers and thus this was an apparent theme; subthemes related to this were the formal services and social support services. Conclusions: Evidence on working family cares is vast and covers a wide range of topics such as compound caring, health, demographic profile, conflicting priorities, finances, employment, and support services. Working family carers face the difficult task of balancing work with care which could lead to negative outcomes related to employment, finances, and health. Implications for applicability: The pressures associated with the dual responsibility can be alleviated via the introduction of support services and policies to support working carers.