Menu Close

Sheila: Celebrating the Value of Lived Experience

There is no doubt that, at times, being a carer is a difficult job. The time, energy and patience needed to care for someone is significant and can leave little time for anything else. That’s why Change Mental Health became a Carer Positive employer thanks to Sheila.

All carers have different circumstances, but if you are a carer who also works, it is imperative that employers are supportive of this caring role. So how do carers identify whether their employer will be supportive?

The Carer Positive Award is designed for just that: highlighting working environments where carers are valued and supported. The award is presented to employers who support carers to manage the, at times, difficult job of balancing work and caring responsibilities. In 2021, thanks to a group of carers working at Change Mental Health, we achieved the Carer Positive Award.

We focus on making carers feel ‘visible, valued, and supported’, reminding carers of their rights as employees, how they can access support and showcasing this work to other employers so they can reflect on how to make their practices as inclusive as possible.

Sheila, who cares for three people and works at Change Mental Health part-time as a Carer Support Worker in Tayside, knows the importance of carers receiving the right support at the right time. She was an integral part in the organisation receiving this award.

“Being a carer, I’ve had to do a lot of my own research which means when supporting people, I can pass that on. Whether that’s looking for support in legal matters or finding mental health services, I help them look for solutions.

“It’s important that we know the rights we have as carers. The more information we have the better. For example, when we’re at hospital appointments asking about a medication strategy so we know what’s going to happen if the medication doesn’t work and when to evaluate. What are the alternatives?”

Carer Support Worker, Tayside

“I wanted us to apply for the award because when I’ve been going through a difficult time, I’ve been offered condensed hours and given a lot of peer support. I also know we have access to over-the-phone counselling services if I need them. Knowing that I am supported makes a big difference to how I feel.

“The first step was to put together a group of carers working at Change Mental Health to advocate why they should receive the award. Once we had a group of about 6 people, we started working together on a policy that Change Mental Health could use when supporting carers. This included guidelines on reasonable amounts of paid leave as well as something called ‘Carer Passports’, which is a tool for carers to use when talking about their needs with employers.”

The team put together the application to receive the Carer Positive Award, which we achieved in 2021. Part of the reason it’s so important for Change Mental Health to support employees in caring roles is that we provide many services for carers across Scotland and value the lived experience of our staff. The knowledge and passion that is passed on through lived experience is a great asset to any employer and is something that should be encouraged, so long as the right support systems are in place.

It’s not just Sheila but all the Carer Support teams across the country who advocate for carers’ rights and help establish Change Mental Health’s commitment to being an inclusive place for carers to work.

“We have a twice a month virtual café where we meet for a chat. There is a shared understanding in the group of what it’s like to juggle a job and caring role. We share information and give each other that bit of extra support.”


Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our own Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.

Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.

Skip to content