New programme launched to tap into the skills of unpaid carers

Millions of UK employees are unpaid carers – new programme helps employers make the best of their transferable skills

The UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) and EdTech company Lifeed have launched Lifeed Caregivers – a digital training programme that allows companies to harness the potential learning from employees who act as unpaid carers to a relative.

The aim is that the programme will foster a culture of care within an organisation by helping unpaid carers enhance their complementary skills, expertise and intelligence. With workforces facing increased stress from working remotely amid COVID-19, it is more important than ever for businesses to ensure that their employees feel cared for and valued.

Previous research suggests that nearly eight million people in the UK provide care for family members without pay, and recent estimates show that COVID-19 has forced an extra 4.5 million people to be added to this figure.

Unpaid carers who juggle work with looking after a family member, partner, or friend develop soft interpersonal skills that are invaluable in the workplace. Studies have found that the  of most caregivers benefit from having greater self-esteem and feeling useful. The Lifeed Caregivers programme aims to unlock the soft skills nurtured through doing this – such as stress management, patience, and self-confidence – and apply them to the workplace.

Available now to UK businesses, the Lifeed Caregivers programme takes place through a web app. It includes online training modules, real-life missions, webinars, and a diary, with 30 minutes per week recommended over three months, with a maximum of 12 months to complete the programme. It focuses on relationships with others, personal development, and self-direction, to harness the skills developed through the care experience and apply them at work. 

Riccarda Zezza, CEO and Founder of Lifeed commented: “We are thrilled to have partnered with the wonderful NICA team, who have lent their world-leading expertise in human experience to help us perfect our Lifeed Caregivers programme. We’re excited to help build a culture of care within British businesses, particularly in light of the current situation which has brought out the caring instincts in all of us. Our life experiences make us who we are, and by embracing them into our working life, we can develop and grow in all aspects of our lives.”

Professor Nicola Palmarini, Director of the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing said: “We strongly believe in the core idea of Lifeed, where the experiences of life of each one of us – like caring about a family member or dealing with a crisis – can be translated in practical skills for personal and professional growth. Our mission at NICA is to harness the intelligence of people through engagement and data; we named it Ageing IntelligenceTM.

“This new digital platform will help businesses to harness new skills, gather meaningful insights and create a sense of community in the workplace. It can also help shape policy and provides huge potential for the growth and personal development of employees whatever their stage of life. On top of this, there is an urgent need for innovative solutions to support the endemic lack of carers, in the UK alone, there is an expected need for 580,000 additional social care workers by 2035.

“Together with Lifeed we are bringing a concrete example of how this issue can be addressed using in a novel way digital and data while leveraging a true collaborative interaction between employers and employees to understand the needs and empower each other in a joint play to benefit both the work-life balance of the individuals and the needs of an ageing society.”
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