Caring at a Distance: bridging the gap

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The results of the first ever research survey  into the impacts on employers and employees of managing caring at a distance, an issue that affects millions of families, are published today (14 June 2011).

Launching the survey research report, ‘Caring at a Distance: bridging the gap’, Caroline Waters OBE, Chair of Employers for Carers and Director of People and Policy for BT Group said: “With our ageing population and workforce – and increasing mobility through employment – managing caring at a distance is clearly moving centre stage as a business issue. Findings from this groundbreaking research - conducted by Employers for Carers and Carers UK, in association with leading global investment bank, Nomura - have given us some new and unique insights into the impact of this increasingly important issue both on employees and on business.“

Key findings from the survey include:

1. Impact of caring on mental and emotional health – it is not just the physical aspect of caring that is important but also its effect on employees’ emotional health:

  • Nearly half (43%) of respondents indicated that their work had been negatively affected by caring and that they felt tired, stressed and anxious.
  • One in three (33%) were also worried that caring might have an impact on their capacity to work in the future.

2. Pressure on the ‘sandwich generation’ – a clear majority of employees needing support (60%) were age 40-54 and combining care for an older relative with other responsibilities including looking after their own children.

3. Accessing external sources of support  - this was the top priority for both employees and employers, including signposting to help at local and national level and practical assistance with caring.

4. Line manager support - while most employers offered support such as flexible working, only 17% provided training or support for line managers to support carers.

Charlotte Sweeney, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, EMEA, Nomura commented: “There is clearly much that employers need to do to support distance carers. However, what the report also highlights is that caring touches every aspect of our lives; it cannot be supported by only one party but demands an integrated response.”

Imelda Redmond CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK added: “Supporting distance caring is about supporting 21st century families and 21st century workplaces.  As the report clearly shows, families and workplaces today are mobile – people don’t always live, or work, as close to each other as they used to. What we know is that caring can have a devastating impact on families’ lives, throwing many people into lasting poverty and ill health while employers also lose valued and skilled employees. The reality of life today is that working and caring at a distance is here to stay – caring is everybody’s business.”

Key recommendations from the report include:

1. Information about external sources of care and support which is clear and easy to navigate must be provided at national and local level.
2. Better promotion of supportive technologies is needed to help both the person who is being cared for and the distance carer.
3. More practical support for line managers in the workplace to help bridge the gap between policy and practice.

- ENDS - 14.06.11

1. The full report, Caring at a Distance: bridging the gap, can be downloaded below and arises from the first ever research survey undertaken of employers and employees on this topic. The online survey was conducted during April and May 2011 by the Employers for Carers forum (which is administered and supported by the charity Carers UK) in association with leading global investment bank, Nomura.  52 employer organisations from the private, public, voluntary and community sectors and 982 individuals who were managing caring at a distance took part.

2. ‘Managing caring at a distance’ refers to supporting/caring unpaid for an ill, frail or disabled relative, partner or friend who may be living in another part of the town, region, country or the world.

3.  Employers for Carers is a membership forum of employers committed to working carers, chaired by BT and supported by the specialist knowledge of Carers UK. With around 55 member organisations representing over a million employees from the private and public sectors, its key purpose is to provide practical advice and assistance to employers seeking to support and retain the 1 in 7 carers in their workforce. More information about Employers for Carers can be viewed here.

4. Carers UK is a charity set up to support the millions of people who care for an elderly relative, a sick friend or a disabled family member. Carers UK: supports carers and provides information and advice about caring; influences policy through our research based on carers’ real life experiences; and campaigns to make life better for carers. More information about Carers UK can be viewed here.

5. Background – key facts:

Within the UK:

  • 3 million people juggle paid work with unpaid caring responsibilities – 1 in 7 people in any workplace – and this number is set to increase by half as much again in the next 25 years.
  • 90% of working carers are aged 30 plus (in their prime employment years) and the peak age for caring is 45-64 when many employees will have gained valuable skills and experience.
  • 1 in 6 people give up work to care – a real loss both to employers and families.


  • There are 125 million informal carers in Europe. 41% of those caring for an older person are in paid work.
  • In the US the informal carer population stands at 44.4 million, 14 million of whom are in full or part time work.
  • Within Canada distance working carers – those caring for someone they don’t live with or near – are more likely to fall out of paid work than co-resident carers.

Download the full report here.