South East Technological University (SETU) is the first Higher Education Institution (HEI) in Ireland to launch the Caring Employers Programme in collaboration with Family Carers Ireland (FCI). This multi-campus programme is open to all SETU employees and aims to provide a suite of practical supports and services for those balancing care in the home with work commitments. 

Family Carers Ireland is the national charity supporting the 500,000+ family carers across the country who care for loved ones such as children or adults with additional needs, physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental health challenges or addiction.

This programme has come about as a result of the ongoing collaborative project between SETU Lifelong Learning Carlow and FCI called “Supporting Family Carers Across Ireland”. This three-year project, running from 2022 to 2024, aims to engage family carers across Ireland in a transformative and holistic educational experience with SETU. It is about supporting and promoting the health, wellbeing, and quality of life of family carers and those for whom they care, while recognising the enormous contribution family carers make to our society.

The project began when SETU Lifelong Learning Carlow was awarded €1 million in funding by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in recognition of its exemplary contributions to society as a faculty. 

SETU is the first higher education institution in Ireland to offer the Caring Employers Programme to its employees. The programme commences with a research phase that will gather data on the needs of caring employees within the SETU community, as well as understanding those who anticipate a family caring role in the coming years. Following this,, a bespoke programme of activities including delivering a range of  practical supports and services will be developed to meet the needs of SETU caring employees. 

“Supporting family carers in the workplace has never been more important. There are over 250,000 people who are balancing paid work with caring for someone with additional care needs. The increased stress caused by juggling work and caring responsibilities can have a significant impact on a person’s wellbeing and their performance at work if they are not adequately supported by their employers. We are really thrilled that SETU will be the first Higher Education Institution in Ireland to offer increased support to its employees through our Caring Employers Programme. We urge other forward-thinking universities and organisations to follow their lead and ensure that adequate systems are in place to support staff with caring responsibilities and avoid losing valued employees,” said Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy with Family Carers Ireland.

“SETU recognises that many employees have family caring roles and responsibilities. This can prove challenging for employees as they strive to fulfil their duties in their professional and personal life. This programme will provide caring employees with an opportunity to articulate their needs which Family Carers Ireland and SETU can respond to by implementing appropriate supports,” commented Nicola McEntee, Project Coordinator at SETU Lifelong Learning Carlow.