Finding work after 4 & 1/2 years caring for Mum

Hello, Fellow Carers.
Thank you for being so honest in all your posts…and thank you to those responding so compassionately to those posting.
What a rare group Carers truly are.

I have put off writing this post, for many reasons.
The classic carer reason for not posting being I avoid burdening others with my own puzzle/problems, which is not very clever of me. Naturally, as we all do, I feel my problem is unique and cannot be resolved easily. So, here is why: I am american, though a resident of the UK over the course of my caring for Mum these last few years as she died.
Thus, the gist of my problems regards employment: I have the right to work on my spousal visa. I am a Master level licensed Nurse Practitioner in California. But my husband and I gave up everything in the states when we moved over here to care for Mum. To move back is way too costly now.

Sure, as a nurse with hospice, intensive care, and oncology experience sounds like, wow who wouldn’t hire her? However, even to get a volunteer position, all the applications require referees from the last year or two that are not friends and preferably, a former employer. In the medical field in the states, supervisors, managers, and charge nurses come and go. I’ve no idea how to find them. We are old now too, my former managers. (They are probably caring for family members full-time too! :wink: by now). I hope they are happily retired.

Meanwhile, I hardly met anyone one while caring for Mum. We arrived, moved in, and Mum immediately began falling apart, almost like she was just waiting on us. We never had time to pause long enough for a long perspective on what we were doing.
Mum was bedridden the last 18 months. I provided and oversaw every aspect of her care to prevent bed sores and discomforts of any kind. I was a bit hard to be around! as I can become single-minded when it comes to taking care of vulnerable people.
So, I, too, by the way, have just turned 60 years of age. I’ve got a lot of attitude for my age, no doubt! Yet, the bod is definitely on its way out. I need and want to stay busy, active, and utilising my brains. Giving is a thing I do…
but cannot even get to volunteer locally…much less get a job.

Any ideas would be GREATLY appreciated. I figure there are slim chances any of you can help with my particular situation. But please know, your kindness is so huge, even if you can only commiserate.
I am respectfully yours in like kind. Let me know how I may be of service to you.

Roughly where do you live?

Hi and thanks for replying.
Southwest Devon. (Another not very populated region as one of the other posters described in here).

Have you considered setting up your own business? Something along the lines of companion, helper, casual Granny sitter? There must be many people who would pay for someone with your qualifications and experience to perhaps keep Granddad company three mornings a week, take Granny to the shops every Thursday, perhaps sleep over for the night the family carers want to attend a wedding miles away?
I have no idea of the rules and regulations involved here but it might be an idea. In the meantime are there any helpful courses you could attend to boost your CV?
Would Mum’s GP give you any kind of a written recommendation based on observed care of your Mum? Are there any records you could access back home to attest to your character and experience?
Have you checked out the local library or Church for any groups you could volunteer with to get yourself known locally?
Just a thought, sorry if I’m not being helpful.

Hi Elaine,
No worries if you cannot come up with a solution! xo
Your ideas are actually good ones... I have been working on all these since Mum died 8 months ago.
I suspect that my age combined with the sparse population 'out here' is the cause of my uphill race.

All the Volunteer groups here request that two Referees stipulation; and the GP (and other wonderful medical help we received along the way) are disallowed legally to provide that sort of reference. If you think of it, that would put them in 'a spot' as how could they say no to some, or yes to some, and not be called out.
As I wrote in my post, I appreciate any kindness.... One never knows, and one must pull out all the stops, leaving no stone unturned. Many blessings to you and to yours,



I agree that setting yourself up as a private carer/companion could be a good idea. If you are on Facebook then join the local ‘Devon Mums’ or whatever towns are near you. Also 'Mumsnet and Netmums have threads asking about carers etc. I am on a group local to me and several people are at the ‘sandwich generation’ stage where they are looking for help for an elderly relative that is not quite ready to go into a care home etc. They want to find someone trustworthy and local and not necessarily have to get into using an agency.
The other idea is dog walking or pet sitting. You could approach a local established business to see if they need help. You would need to love animals of course.

Hi Cosmoblivion
I’d try writing to each of the local carer agencies explaining just as you did above. Most are so desperate for staff that I’m sure they’d bend the rules. They would still want official checks and dbs etc but im sure they’d waive the references rules.
Then once you’ve worked for them for a while you’d have the references to move to something better

Hope this helps

If I were you, I’d fill out the application forms giving the name and address of your previous employment and supervisor, and explain your circumstances, briefly, in the cover letter. Application forms are designed to rule you out, not in! Let it be for them to find out that your supervisor is no longer with the company. Also, in the US, companies usually just confirm the employment timeframe, title and reason for leaving.

You need to get to the interview and not be put off by the application form. Have you tried networking with local groups. I should think people should be bending over backwards for you. Have you had any feedback from any interviews or informal meetings? Always a good idea to ask how they think you’d fit in so you can address any concerns they might have before they turn you down.

Do you think they might be intimidated by your qualifications and experience? Overqualified? Again, you need to have the chance to put their concerns to rest.

Hello, I am just joining this site for the first time but I am struggling to find lovely and qualified carers for my Mother who has Demenia and there is a nationwide shortage of qualified, professional carers for an ageing population we never frankly thought about in our generation (where in previous generations it was the norm our grand parents would live with us and we would take care of them). I think you are amazing having cared for your Mother for 5 years. There are 2 agencies I would recommend you contact (having done a lot of research) …call Julia Arnold @ Home Help Companions and Robert Hohler at
info@companionsof And do let me know how you go … Best wishes K

It is criminal that someone as highly qualified as you cannot be usefully employed in a proper capacity. Do you have any references at all from your former employers? Even if you can’t trace the people that you worked with, because they have moved on or retired, surely the employer has an employment record for you?

What about applying for work in charity shops or British heart foundation furniture places etc or Mind charity shops? they wont want 2 references from previous employers etc. You could do that for a month or 2 then use that reference for other work.

Hi everyone,
My story is similar to other former carers on this topic.
In 2011, I gave up a well paid job after 26 years with the same company to care for my mum who had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I got no support from my employer and as mum was not able to look after herself any more, but not bad enough to go in a home, I decided to care for her full time as we lived together anyway. I have no regrets as we had six valuable years together which I will treasure.
In 2017, I was so exhausted, that I had to make the difficult decision to put her in a home, which I unfortunately regret as she was treated appallingly for the last year of her life. She died last Aug 2018 in hospital of pneumonia and I miss her terribly.
Now I am a young 61 years of age and unemployed for the first time in my life. I am utterly shocked by the attitude of employers who think that caring is not an occupation. One employer in an interview accused me of lying on my CV as he did not believe that anyone would give up their job to care for a parent. Glad I’m not his mother!
Volunteering is worse. Nobody would take me on because of my lack of references, even at my local hospital. You would think that they would understand, but no. Eventually, last week, I made a last-ditch attempt to volunteer and got in touch with my local Age UK. They have taken me on in their furniture showroom, WITHOUT REFERENCES! It feels so good to be useful again. Living alone it is very easy to get depressed and after caring for six years, I feel I have a purpose in life.
However, it may not help me to find a job. Today, I attended a recruitment fair at my local hospital. It was like being kicked in the stomach. They take the same attitude as every other employer I have met. No references, no job. So much for our wonderful NHS!
Has anyone else managed to find work after caring? I need all the advice I can get.

Kim, Why not put down the names of your managers from the last two jobs you did work and the companies’phone numbers, even if they are no longer at those companies?
Prospective employers hate empty spaces on the application form. Perhaps you may have a pastor who knows you well. You need to get beyond the first screening out and get an interview to sell yourself to the hiring manager.

I’m 72 and have been retired for over 13 years so no up to date work experience, when I had to supply references for a volunteering job with a local charity I gave the names of two long term friends who knew me well and who had worked or still worked in important jobs. One held a senior post at a well known boy’s grammar school and the other is a highly regarded financial adviser.

In reality all any employer is looking for is someone with (a) relative experience for the job concerned and (b) to know that you are trustworthy/reliable.

If you find a job that you really, really want and the only thing standing in your way is the lack of references then it might be worthwhile offering your services for a trial period without pay (say anything from one to three months).

Speak to your local citizens advice centre. Consider apply for a

This will be very important.

I’m speechless (not something normally associated with me!). Not believing that anyone would give up their job to care for a parent? He obviously never read that report from CarersUK a few months back 600 people a day giving up paid work due to unpaid caring! And as for the charities, they should hang their heads in shame. A lot of these organisations take on convicted criminals and ex-offenders who are on probation or on licence, as part of Community Payback or whatever it’s called these days - and quite right too, everyone deserves a second chance. But second chances should also apply to carers / former carers who have committed no crime (quite the reverse) but understandably lack references from recent employment. Honestly, there are times I want to weep in despair and frustration!

Edit: I forgot to say kudos to Age UK for taking a more sensible approach and giving you a much-needed break!

Do you have a link to the report or not? I want to read it.

Leah this is the report to which Dee refers

(if you go to the main Carers UK Website - link can be found under the “Quick Links” tab at the top of the page) and then click on the “News & Campaigns” tab in the red banner, you’ll find the Carers UK current reports/surveys).

It is fair to record that former carers have NO support when the caring days end.

A problem that has been with is all for decades … no one out there takes on the role of a " Carers Probation Officer " … someone
within the local community to guide a new , former , carer , into the ways of the outside world on their release from caring.

A case of evey man / woman for themselves … without a life jacket.

( The age old prisoner / carer analogy ? )

Has been raised with both supporting organisations from time to time with no result whatsoever.

The abhorrent 21 Hour Rule does not assist carers to retrain / educate themselves in advance of their caring days ending !

Another reason why this forum is so vital to carers … if only many more would participate.