Participating in community engagement activities, whether they are online or in-person can be tough for those caring for another person. So in our line of work, it is important to consider the needs of these individuals to ensure that, regardless of their busy schedule, they too have a chance to have their say.
Consider your demographic
The best way to ensure your engagement activity is considerate of caregivers is to understand what their needs are, and who they are likely to be caring for. You may ask yourself these questions:
- Who are they caring for?
- How much free time do they have?
- Can a member of my team provide temporary care whilst the caregiver is participating?
- What support might their client or family member require to participate?
- Is the area of engagement accessible and/or safe?
Caregivers to children and young people
One thing that can change a community pop-up dramatically is to include an activity that is simple and accessible. This allows participants caring for a young person to be able to step away and be sure that their dependant is not only entertained but feels that they are contributing to an important process.
Online or over-the-phone engagement can be tricky for those caring for a young person, so it is best to be mindful of their situation. Be prepared for interruptions; if time permits, try to squeeze in a break, especially during evenings or weekends.
Caregivers to those with a disability
It is important to understand the limitations of carers and their clients when engaging in public or face-to-face activities. It may be difficult to gauge each individual’s time commitments, so be sure to mention how long your engagement activity is likely to take to avoid any frustration.
Involve both the carer and their client or family member in the conversation where possible, and consider accessibility needs in props or designs to be inclusive in your activity.
When engaging with caregivers over the phone or online, be sure to allow time for these individuals to assist the person they are caring for. Be open-minded in your approach to disruptions and have a backup plan ready for unexpected events that may impact their ability to participate. This may be a follow-up email, having alternative time slots or allowing for engagement on a different platform (i.e. a phone call in place of a virtual meeting or vice versa).