Burr, Vivien and Colley, Helen (2014) Understanding the impact of eldercare on working women’s lives:a pilot study. Research Report. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK. (Unpublished)

1. Responsibility for elder care is now a major issue for families, especially women. It often has an adverse impact on their economic and social well-being. Combining employment with elder care presents particular challenges.
2. Our survey suggests that around half the University's staff have elder care responsibilities, and more expect to take on elder care in the future.
3. There is a considerable additional burden of work for elder carers, which can be very stressful:
• these staff are very conscientious about maintaining high levels of performance at work
• most of them undertake elder care after working hours and one day per weekend, on top of caring for their own household and children/grandchildren
• elder care is more unpredictable than childcare, typically including more and longer crises
• although external support services (e.g. from local authorities) may exist, staff are often unaware of these, and elders frequently refuse to accept them.
4. Elder care impacts negatively on women's career development, including by limiting their ability to study for qualifications, undertake research, or seek promotion. This is particularly stressful for women academics now required to do a doctorate, some of whom have had to suspend studies.
5. Flexibility in the workplace, and information about available support (both within the University and from external services) emerge as key issues in enabling women to manage these challenges.
6. The role of line managers in helping women achieve flexibility is crucial. Whilst some appear to be helpful regarding elder care issues, others are unaware or unsupportive. There is currently no specific attention to elder care issues in managers’ training or induction.
7. The University Counselling Service is viewed by line managers as an essential resource for staff involved in elder care, especially following bereavement. However, it is not completely confidential, as line managers' approval is needed for faculties/services to pay for the service.
8. Few staff involved in elder care are aware of University family-friendly policies that may apply to them. Some who had searched for these on the intranet had been unable to find relevant information.
9. HR staff are not aware of the extent of elder care as an issue for staff at the University, and it is not monitored. HR receive requests for dependents' leave for childcare but not for elder care.


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