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Published: 26 Jun 2024

University of Strathclyde – Finalist 2024, Best for Carers and Eldercare

The University of Strathclyde have implemented progressive policies and embedded a culture of support in response to the unique challenges faced by carers, and in their pursuit to ensure carers can successfully balance work and care.  

Carer-friendly policies 

The University of Strathclyde recognise the need for carers to have a framework of support. Their carers policy details how to register as a carer and access support, including five days of paid Carers Leave annually and prioritised car parking. The broad definition of a ‘carer’ encompasses anyone who is relied on for support, enabling employees in many circumstances to self-identify. Carers can self-declare their status on the employee portal. Unpaid dependents leave is also available to carers, as is a career break option, where staff can take 6 weeks to 12 months of unpaid leave whilst retaining their service and returning to the same role. Hybrid working is integrated into the ways of working, and more agile working is available on an informal or formal basis. Organisation-wide Meeting-Free-Fridays give staff the space and time to complete tasks and plan for the week ahead.  

Support for carers 

A Carers Network provides a source of peer support for anyone who has, intends to have, or has had caring responsibilities. Regular in-person meetings enable the sharing of experiences and has sessions geared towards specific areas, such as carers dealing with Autism. The network, and a Staff Carer Network Teams channel provides a safe space to discuss challenges, celebrate diversity and helps safeguard against isolation. The University understands the need for support to be embedded within the culture, and so has focused on raising awareness, both for carers and the wider community. Highlighting issues and experiences in staff newsletters, on awareness days and on the dedicated webpage helps carers understand their rights and how to access support, and the wider staff can understand the challenges faced by carers. 

Driving change 

The initiatives have resulted in the registering of 388 carers who are able to tap into the support available. The Carers Network, whilst offering support, has also created a collective voice to support meaningful change. Through participation in a Policy Forum, the Network has informed a suite of family-friendly policies, ensuring that the diverse needs of staff are met. Actions planned for the future include improving online resources, capitalising on the expertise of research and academic staff to deliver awareness raising and gaining insights from staff to shape future support.