When my mum was first diagnosed with dementia, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the fear of how I would manage her needs with juggling my busy full time job that involved long hours and deadlines. I had no idea how I would cope, especially when mum’s needs increased.It was a struggle, made even harder by the fact I didn’t realise I was entitled to ask my employers for some flexibility.

As a carer, you have a legal right to ask your employer for flexible working hours. It doesn’t matter what level of care you are providing for a loved one. It can be visiting them for two hours on a weekend to make sure they are OK, or visiting them every day. If you are providing care, then you can request flexibility.

Your employer is not obliged to agree, but they have to consider your request and if they refuse, they must give a specific reason for refusing.

Small things may help. I would sometimes leave work early to take mum to an appointment, or I’d work from home. So long as I met my deadlines, my employer raised no objections. If you have a good relationship with your boss then talk to them, explain the situation and you may find they are supportive.

You also have the right to take a reasonable amount of time off in the event of an emergency. It’s up to your employer to decide whether this is paid or unpaid.

In addition, you are entitled to an assessment of your own needs by the local authority, even if you are not a full time carer. If you are not entitled to Carer’s Allowance, the assessment may still result in you being offered support to enable you to continue to care for the person, such as a respite break or arranging for the person with dementia to go to a day centre one day a week to give you a break, or perhaps even help with travel arrangements if you live a long way from the person.

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