Why it’s no picnic for the sandwich generation

Public Affairs

23 October 2017

The filling in that sandwich is increasing all the time:

  • The charity Carers UK estimates that the number of people with regular care responsibilities will increase from 6.5m to 9m by 2037
  • 49% of carers have given up work
  • 23% have reduced their working hours
  • The proportion of people aged 50 to 64 in employment has risen from 55% in 1984 to 70% today
  • Those aged 55 to 59 are at particular risk of losing their jobs
Carers UK estimates that three in five people are estimated to end up caring for someone at some point in their lives, and the number of carers is expected to increase from 6.5 million to 9 million from 2011 to 2037. 70% of employees are unaware of any initiatives offered by their employer to attract, retain or enageg employees approaching state pensions age. 8% of managers said their organisation offers training to help them manage different generations. 23% of employees feel supported by their employer with their responsibilites for caring for a loved one.
Carers UK estimates that the total number of carers will rise from 6.5 million to 9 million from 2011 to 2037. Three in five people are estimated to end up caring for someone at some point in their lives.

The ‘sandwich generation’ is the expression used to refer to those who are responsible for looking after both elderly relatives and children or grandchildren.

Our ageing population is one of the major issues facing society today. It is a problem that requires looking to the future to better understand how we can help make people’ lives better – and our healthcare experts are well placed to do that.

The UK workfroce is ageing, with 24.5 million people aged 50+ by 2020. Employment in ages 50 to 64 has increased to 70% from 50% since 1984 (Department for Work and Pensions). Employment in ages 65+ has increased to 10% from 5% since 1984 (Department for Work and Pensions).
The UK workfroce is ageing, with 24.5 million people aged 50+ by 2020. Employment in ages 50 to 64 has increased to 70% from 50% since 1984 (Department for Work and Pensions). Employment in ages 65+ has increased to 10% from 5% since 1984 (Department for Work and Pensions).

The truth is that it is better for people to remain active in the workforce for as long as possible There is a lot more businesses and the Government can do to help. That’s why we produced a white paper –The Sandwich Generation: supporting fuller working lives – which outlines how organisations can do more to embrace older employees, especially those who provide care for others.

The report draws on new research which we carried out ourselves. We uncovered a number of interesting insights; for example, it turns out that employees see 58 as the age at which someone might be considered ‘older’, while for managers it’s 54.

It’s no surprise that the stress of the situation often has a damaging effect on the carers’ health.

Ultimately, we made a number of specific and practical recommendations to both businesses and Government to support older employees and help them stay in work longer.

Businesses lose out too. They lose valuable skills and experience and have to spend a lot of time and money replacing them.

We underlined the importance of having proper health and wellbeing strategies in place to keep employees in good physical and mental shape – not just so that they can fulfil their work and care roles at present, but so that they can go on enjoying life into their retirement.

By taking the initiative and getting involved in the issue, we’re helping to protect the health of our customers and the wider public. It’s likely to be a debate that rumbles on for the foreseeable future – so until it reaches a positive conclusion we’ll continue to lobby the government on this issue (and many others) by commenting on related government papers whenever they’re published.

Caring may never be a picnic, but we want to make it as painless as possible.