Free e-learning programme boosts confidence and skills amongst unpaid carers

Source: Carers UK

National charity Carers UK has launched its latest digital innovation for unpaid carers in a drive to recognise their valuable skills and experience.

The interactive e-learning programme, Learning for Living, helps carers develop greater understanding of the unique skills and knowledge they apply on a day-to-day basis in their caring role, and how they can transfer these skills to the workplace.

Previous research by the charity shows 2.6 million people have given up their job to care unpaid for a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill.

The aim of the e-learning programme is to boost confidence amongst unpaid carers, who regularly carry out complex tasks, manage finances and communicate in a range of situations, but often underestimate the value of these skills when job searching or looking at changing roles.

Based on a programme developed by City & Guilds with Carers UK, this edition of Learning for Living was funded by the Department for Health and Social Care and developed with the insight of carers who fed back on the content and outcomes of the learning.

It is a free online resource and has today been made available to unpaid carers across the UK.

Madeleine Starr MBE, Director of Business Development and Innovation at Carers UK, said:

“Whatever your responsibilities as a carer, looking after someone requires a unique skillset that is too often undervalued when compared with skills gained through training or employment.

“Many carers have to change their working hours or even give up work to care so looking for a new job can be daunting. We hope Learning for Living will help carers recognise their expertise and use it to review their job role, return to work, take up new opportunities or participate in the community.

“Returning to work benefits carers but also employers who are increasingly struggling with skills gaps. Programmes supporting carers going back to work have been effective but the government should now provide dedicated funding for those who face unique challenges returning after caring for an older, sick or disabled relative.”

To mark the launch of the digital resource, Care Minister Caroline Dinenage met with unpaid carers at the charity’s head office to use Learning for Living and explore with carers the benefits they have seen from it.

Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage said:

“Unpaid carers provide an incredible contribution to our health and care system but too many feel their career, or their opportunity to work at all, have been affected. But I’ve seen for myself how much employers really value the breadth of skills that carers can contribute.

“Learning for Living will help carers develop a better understanding of their transferable skills – from managing finances to communicating in a range of situations. Carers will be able to gain a digital badge that they can use to document their learning and shape their career development and employers can recognise as part of professional development. The development of this programme has been an essential part of our Carer’s Action Plan to maintain and support unpaid carers to return to employment.

“It was real a pleasure to meet with carers who are already seeing the benefits of this programme, which has provided a boost in confidence and showcased how their unique skills will help them in job searching or a career change.”

Over the course of five interactive modules, carers explore the specific techniques they use to learn and communicate, as well as ways to develop assertiveness and confidence. The programme takes approximately two hours to complete.

Carers completing Learning for Living receive a digital badge that they can use to document their learning and shape their career development and employers can recognise as part of professional development.

Feedback from unpaid carers

Carer Joanie said: “I think going through this process would definitely make carers feel good about the skills and abilities they have acquired during their caring ‘careers’. One of the biggest challenges is convincing others that while you have been caring for say 10 years, you have been developing and exercising skills during this period. Learning for Living is very impressive and thorough and useful and fun.”

Carer Yvonne said: “Using real life examples made the programme very relatable and applicable to me in my caring role. I liked how I could save my progress, take a break and complete the programme in my own time. I appreciated the use of theory and how I could apply this in practice to my learning. The Envision Your Future module actually made me stop for a moment to think about what I want for my future.”