A new Cebr report for Public Health England and the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends initiative, published today, finds that dementia caring obligations cost English businesses £1.6 billion a year.

50,000 carers in 2014 will have quit their job due to caring responsibilities, and a further 66,000 will have to make adjustments at work, according to research endorsed by the UK government. But businesses are showing signs of a shift in willingness to make society more dementia friendly:

  • Most businesses have already provided or would consider providing a range of support to carers of someone living with dementia. A total of 87% of business surveyed have or would consider letting carers work flexible hours
  • More than half of businesses would consider providing a range of support to dementia carers such as flexible working hours (63%), extended leave (61%), working from different locations (53%) and counselling and support (51%)
  • Around 18% would consider paying for respite care
  • The average person diagnosed with dementia has been in their current job for at least nine years. The relatively rapid progression of the disease from diagnosis means that it is inevitable that many individuals affected while still working will have to retire at some point, however with support from employers they may be able to keep working for longer

These proposed changes will be welcomed by England’s carers, who are struggling to fit care into busy lives:

  • Carers spend 28 hours a week on average caring for someone with dementia
  • Most (51%) are also working; these employed carers spend an average 18 hours a week caring on top of their jobs
  • Over a quarter (27%) of businesses surveyed have employed someone who needed to make adjustments to their working patterns in order to care for someone living with dementia
  • The hours lost due to carer commitments equates to £1.6bn to English businesses each year

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “The fact that thousands of workers in this country are juggling caring responsibilities without support and understanding from their employers is frightening. We’re all beginning to talk about dementia, however, society is not yet fully supportive of people with dementia, either in the workplace or in everyday life. I’d love to see everyone become Dementia Friends, and make life that little bit easier for people with dementia.”

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, said: “Dementia isn’t just a health condition – it attacks the fabric of our society and takes a huge toll on the immediate circle of those affected by the disease. I am urging individuals, families, communities and businesses to come together to ensure that people with dementia can continue to live fulfilling and rewarding lives in their community.

For more information on the Dementia Friends initiative, please visit the UK government site or the Alzheimer’s Society website.