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Are you ready to release the “pause” button?

Caring for a loved one can take up a huge chunk of our daily lives and in the midst of it all, we often lose sight of what’s important to us, be it a personal goal, social connections or our careers. Reflecting on Carers Week 8th-14th June 2015, I’d like to look at the role of caring and the impact it has on our daily lives and how it is possible to go forward with just a little guidance in the right direction.

Have you or a family member put your career and life plans on hold to care for a parent or loved one?

For the last three years or so, I have been part of a family team caring for my partner’s elderly parents.  Although her father died very sadly, 18 months ago, her mother continues to reside with us and is a very prominent member of the household.  At the ripe old age of 90, love her to bits (or not!) this involves managing carers on a daily basis, regular trips to the pharmacy, visits to the doctor and the hospital and in addition to this, providing three healthy square meals a day.  But because we both love her deeply, we try to do our best and take it all in our stride, but it’s at a cost…

As I’m sure any carer will tell you, it almost becomes a full-time job that dominates your thinking time and if not managed well, distracts you from thoughts of work or earning a living. 

Since we all are aware that we live in a time of an aging population, I suspect many of us will face such a challenge. More and more these days, I have clients who come to us asking for help getting back to work after caring, often full time, for an elderly parent or a partner.

One of the reasons they seek us out is the need for someone to talk to, someone who they feel comfortable talking to and who will not judge them.  I hear you say, then why not talk to existing family and friends but in reality it’s not that easy.  Family and friends obviously want the best for you, but often don’t realise that being a carer often changes people, sometimes in very subtle ways and at times, drastically, especially in terms of career change.  I very often hear the statement “I need a job, but at the same time it’s got to be something I want to do, because it’s my time now!” 

So what advice do we give?  Sometimes the first step is to take a holiday, perhaps the first break for a while, to get that colour and a smile back in the cheeks and recharge the batteries.  

Sometimes they are just looking for advice around how to explain the gap on their CV. Others, depending how long they have been away from the world of work, are worried that their skills and previous experience are now worthless or discover a loss of confidence and fear the rejection of even applying for jobs.  Others just need information around job search or practice at attending interviews.

Whatever the concern, the majority, with our help and a little patience, get back into work within a relatively short period of time, approximately three months or so and often into more satisfying work than they previously envisaged.  On reflection, they realise that their enforced career break, although tiring and challenging on more than one front, has left them with a sense of inner satisfaction, plus a new range of skills and competencies that employers see as “character,” which are quite often missing in a World chasing after self-gratification. 

If you or your family can relate to the above and need career help or just a friendly ear then please get in touch.

Jeff Priestley 


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