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Dementia Carer Job: Would you apply?


Job Description Salary - £0  0.40p ph Hours  - Full time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Holiday entitlement - None Sick pay - None Pension - None Other Workplace Benefits - none

Would you apply for this job?

Probably not

But this is the reality for dementia carers in the UK.

Help us create a fairer society for people who care for someone with dementia. 

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Read Sarah's story about caring for someone whilst working full-time

After my grandfather died, my nana struggled with her grief, then cancer and then with vascular dementia.She was living alone in a small bungalow in a sheltered housing complex but with no warden on site.

I was working 4 days a week. My children were 4 and 6 years old and my husband worked long hours. I had no family on hand to provide child care so life day to day was tricky enough.

Things went from bad to worse. I was getting phone calls from worried neighbours saying she hadn’t opened her blinds or they had seen her out in the back garden in the middle of the night. Her carers would ring and say they didn’t know if she had taken her medication and they weren’t allowed to give it. She would have a fall and I would get a phone call at work and then dash off to the hospital 30 miles away.

These calls would come late at night or in the middle of a working day. They were happening more and more frequently. I had to leave work many times and rush to see her. I would then owe time I couldn’t afford to pay back. Some colleagues were understanding but others weren't.

The stress of it all built and built until I couldn’t sleep and was perpetually exhausted. I went to the GP and sobbed and begged for sleeping tablets. I could no longer concentrate at work and comments were made about me not pulling my weight by colleagues quietly. I felt as though I was failing everything; failing my job, failing to look after my nana, and failing to be a good mum and wife. My husband would come home from long stressful work days and I would have to leave him and the kids to see her. The strain took its toll on my marriage.

I was feeling unwell but couldn't be bothered to schedule appointments so just put up with the pain. I was signed off sick with stress and depression and then underwent 3 surgeries in the space of 6 weeks and developed peritonitis. Family members were then forced to help out a little more. I slowly recovered with rest and finally managed to get my nana moved into a lovely residential home. On May 19th 2012, she passed away. I had taken so much sick leave by this point that after she died I took my 5 days compassionate leave and returned to work. I struggled for a year and had a complete mental breakdown. I ended up leaving the council after 20 years and took voluntary redundancy. I had 6 months of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Once I felt better, I started to work in the charity sector. 

I am not alone in my story. So many carers (particularly women) struggle to do it all. I feel had my colleagues appreciated the difficulties of caring for a close relative with dementia, they might have been more understanding.  My employer could have been more proactive in helping me to stay at work.

How many carers do you think work in your organisation? What could you do to make it a more carer-friendly place to work? What support could you offer to help carers stay in employment?