The reward and operations manager at Ørsted’s London office, Karen also has two teenage children and looks after her elderly parents, one of whom suffers with dementia.
According to the Carer UK website, women are more likely to become “sandwich” carers, meaning that they simultaneously look after their children whilst also caring for their parents.
“Many people have caring responsibilities that come in different forms,” said Karen, “I joined Ørsted when my children were 13 and 17 and whilst they were becoming independent, they still needed me.”
“At the same time, my mother’s dementia sadly became worse and this especially effected my father who had been with my mother since they were teenagers.”
Karen’s mother was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in October 2016 and the disease led to significant behaviour changes in her mother who no longer recognised her father and also became violent.
Karen continued, “My children are very close to their grandparents, it was my mother who had babysat, looked after them when they were ill and taught them how to cook. As the sibling that lived closet to my parents, I ended up looking after my parents, emotionally more than physically, however I still had two teenagers who needed help to comprehend what was happening to their Grandmother. I am lucky I have a sister who is also very supportive although she lives a good hour’s drive away, we have been able to work as a team.”
Stepping in to support her father physically and emotionally, being mum to her own children and a wife to a husband that had been made redundant, Karen found herself as a wife, mother, daughter and sole breadwinner, in a new job.
“There are three main things about Ørsted that helped me get through this difficult time,” said Karen, “Firstly, the people and the support of those around me. I genuinely felt as though my colleagues cared for me and no judgement was made when I had to take personal calls,” she remembers, “the flexibility at Ørsted meant that I could leave early to go to parents evening or to take half day’s holiday at short notice for a meeting about mum. Also, the technology at Ørsted. I was able to work from home and trusted to do so.”