Combining Work and Care- How Do Workplace Support and Technologies Contribute to Sustainable Care Arrangements, 2017-2021

Yeandle, Sue and Heyes, Jason and Allard, Camille and Hamblin, Kate (2023). Combining Work and Care- How Do Workplace Support and Technologies Contribute to Sustainable Care Arrangements, 2017-2021. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Service. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-855239

Our programme focuses on the care needs of adults living at home with chronic health problems or disabilities, and seeks sustainable solutions to the UK's contemporary 'crisis of care'. It is distinctive in investigating sustainability and wellbeing in care holistically across care systems, work and relationships; addresses disconnection between theorisations of care in different disciplines; and locates all its research in the context of international scholarship, actively engaging with policy partners. It will fill knowledge gaps, contribute new theoretical ideas and data analyses, and provide useful, accurate evidence to inform care planning, provision and experience. It develops and critically engages with policy and theoretical debates about: care infrastructure (systems, networks, partnerships, standards); divisions of caring labour/the political economy of care (inequalities, exploitation); care ethics, rights, recognition and values (frameworks, standards, entitlements, wellbeing outcomes); care technologies and human-technological interactions; and care relations in emotional, familial, community and intergenerational context. Our team comprises 20 scholars in 7 universities, linked to an international network spanning 15 countries. Our programme comprises integrative activities, in which the whole team works together to develop a new conceptual framework on sustainable care and wellbeing, and two Work Strands, each with 4 linked projects, on 'Care Systems' & 'Care Work & Relationships'. 'Care Systems' will: (i) study prospects, developments and differentiation in the four care systems operating in England, N. Ireland, Scotland & Wales, comparing their approaches to markets, privatisation and reliance on unpaid care; (ii) model costs and contributions in care, covering those of carers and employers as well as public spending on care; (iii) assess the potential of emerging technologies to enhance care system sustainability; and (iv) analyse, in a dynamic policy context, migrant care workers' role in the sustainability of homecare. 'Care Work & Relationships' will: (i) develop case studies of emerging homecare models, and assess their implications for sustainable wellbeing; (ii) focus on carers who combine employment with unpaid care, filling gaps in knowledge about the effectiveness of workplace support and what care leave and workplace standard schemes can contribute to sustainable care arrangements; (iii) explore how care technologies can be integrated to support working carers, ensuring wellbeing outcomes across caring networks; and (iv) investigate care 'in' and 'out of' place, as systems adapt or come under pressure associated with population diversity and mobility. Each project will collaborate with our international partners. These scholars, in 26 collaborating institutions, will ensure we learn from others about ways of understanding, measuring or interpreting developments in how care is organised and experienced, and keep up to date with latest research and scholarship. Our capacity-building strategy will build future scholarly expertise in the study of sustainability and wellbeing in care, and ensure our concepts, methods, and research findings achieve international standards of excellence. Universities in our partnership are contributing 5 UK & 12 overseas PhD studentships, enabling us to form an international early career scholar network on sustainable care, supported by our senior team and partners. Our impact strategy, led by Carers UK, involves leading UK and international policy partners. Informing policy, practice and debate, we will co-produce analyses and guidance, enhance data quality, promote good practice and engage decision-makers, policymakers, practitioners in the public, private and voluntary sectors, carers, people with care needs, and the media. Our Advisory Board of leading academics, policy/practice figures and opinion formers will guide all our work.

Data description (abstract)

Family carers, central to sustainable care, are mostly of working age and employed full-time. Their rising numbers include many mobile workers. Incompatibility between family care and paid work is a known risk to sustainable care, but better evidence is needed of the support needed to promote wellbeing among working carers and those they support. This team’s research on Combining Work and Care: How do workplace support and technologies contribute to sustainable care arrangements is designed to inform policy and practice on the planning and resourcing of care by generating new insights into sustainable care and wellbeing through comparison of developments in the UK and other countries. Previous UK research on this topic has mostly focused on flexible working arrangements and organisational case studies. Little is known about how care leave (on which the UK has not legislated) might be introduced, or about the voluntary initiatives already being implemented by employers. This research focused on under-researched aspects of the support needed to sustain the wellbeing of ‘working carers’: measurement of impact; the role and potential of schemes designed to improve workplace support; the impact and characteristics of statutory care leave in other countries and of their voluntary, employer-led, equivalents in the UK. The main research questions were: 1. What support do working carers need to fulfill both their work and caring responsibilities? What are their highest priorities for such support? 2. What constitutes good workplace support for carers in employment? How does it enhance carers’ ability to integrate their paid employment and caring roles? 3. What is the impact of this support on carers, employers, care users and care workers? What are its costs and benefits for employers and for different types of employee? 4. What are the key features of established/emerging carer ‘workplace standard’, ‘employer recognition’ and ‘benchmarking’ schemes; what do they contribute to wellbeing and sustainability of care arrangements? 5. What are the characteristics, impact, uptake and outcomes of UK employers’ voluntary care leave schemes, and of statutory paid care leave schemes in other countries? 6. What aspects of worker and carer roles are amenable to improved co-ordination of care; in what ways and how can technology enhance the quality of care relationships, or produce wellbeing outcomes? 7. Which (if any) available technologies do working carers use, and how (if at all) do they assemble or modify these to provide the support they need? 8. Can technological innovations offer improved support for working carers reduce stress/overload or disconnection/ fragmentation in caring situations?

Data creators:
Creator Name Affiliation ORCID (as URL)
Yeandle Sue University of Sheffield
Heyes Jason University of Sheffield
Allard Camille University of Birmingham
Hamblin Kate University of Sheffield
Sponsors: ESRC
Grant reference: ES/P009255/1
Topic classification: Labour and employment
Project title: Sustainable Care: connecting people and systems
Grant holders: Sue Yeandle, Heyes Jason, Hamblin Kate Amelia, Needham Catherine, Bennett Matthew, McGregor James, Keating Norah, Manthorpe Jill, Gray Ann Marie, Starr Madeleine, Burns Diane, Fast Janet, Kilkey Majella, Rutherford Alasdair, Ryan Louise, Hussein Shereen, Glasby Jon
Project dates:
6 November 201731 August 2021
Date published: 10 Nov 2021 12:27
Last modified: 06 Mar 2023 16:40

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