If You’re a Carer, You’re Not ‘Unemployed’ #CarersWeek


Forms, forms and more forms. Whenever I’m filling them out either for myself or the person I care for, I feel dejected at the sight of the ‘Employment Status’ section.

Are you?
⁏ Employed ⁏ Self-employed ⁏ Retired
⁏ Homemaker ⁏ Unemployed

A typical example from yesterday’s mail.

While I’m not employed in the traditional manner, I am paid by the state to care for my mother full-time. It’s a job with unlimited hours and none of the usual benefits of sick, parental and holiday leave. Then there’s the sick and disabled who are unable to work, either because they’re not capable or no one will employ them.

To say we’re unemployed is demoralizing and upsetting. It isn’t fair to label us as unemployed when our time is occupied with fighting to maintain and improve our physical and mental health or that of someone we love. On the Holmes and Rahe stress scale personal illness or injury is the sixth most stressful experience a person can go through, although this one factor can also lead to many of the other stressful life events on the list, such as divorce, which is second.

Disabled or carer, which boxes are we supposed to tick? Most forms claim you’ll be breaking the terms and conditions if you should lie. Perhaps drawing an extra tick box for full-time carer or disabled is the best option. You wouldn’t be lying, you’d be clarifying. Rapid decline in self-esteem averted, or at least minimized.

Image: Adam Gault/Getty

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