Yurtle: Caregivers are robbing from their future to pay for their present

On the 24th May 2023, the Carer’s Leave Bill, brought forward by Wendy Chamberlain MP, gained Royal Assent and became the Carer’s Leave Act 2023. The regulations for this Act confirm that it will come into force today (6th April 2024).

Related topics:  insurtech,  Caregiving
Tabitha Lambie | Editor, Protection Reporter
6th April 2024
"Existing tools clearly aren’t working because 70% of caregivers are burnt out."
- Antonio Ribeiro, Founder of Yurtle

According to Carers UK, 5mn employees – roughly 15% of the UK population - had been juggling their career and caregiving responsibilities before the Pandemic. In 2020, this figure rose to 7mn with, on average, 600 people leaving the workforce to provide care for their loved ones each day.

With the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showing over 5.7mn unpaid caregivers in the UK (a figure that several charitable organisations estimate to be nearly twice as high), the Carer’s Leave Bill gained Royal Assent on the 24th May 2023. This was made possible by Carers UK’s campaigning efforts for the statutory right to leave for caregivers as well as an inquiry into employment support by the Work & Pensions Select Committee in November 2017.

Ahead of the Carer’s Leave Act, effective on the 6th April 2024, Protection Reporter spoke with Antonio Ribeiro, Founder of Yurtle, about why the insurance sector needs to stop caregivers robbing from their future to pay for their present.

Antonio was born in Portugal, raised in Brazil, and studied in the UK before entering the insurance sector via Lloyds of London’s Generalist Graduate Programme. In 2016, Antonio decided to transition into the world of investment management, landing a role at Legal & General where he was exposed to the “challenges and opportunities that come with our inverted population pyramid.”

“We’ve built a world on the premise that there’s always going to be someone to take over. The second that notion is no longer true, the maths of society is brought into question.”

Personally, Antonio has been a caregiver for multiple members of his family. “My Grandad lived with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for eleven years – he was one of the first two people to be diagnosed in Portugal,” he said.

“He was diagnosed alongside the President’s sister. I remember the bittersweet moment when he was in the news with her discussing their diagnoses.”

Sadly, the President’s sister passed away within four months, but Antonio’s Grandad lived far longer, thanks to care given by family and professionals.

Although life expectancy in the UK has risen by over a decade since 1950, most people won’t experience ‘good health’ during those new-found years. Ergo, Antonio thought it’d be socially impactful to try and find a way to help caregivers (defined as someone with unpaid responsibility and duty to an elderly parent, child, relative, or whoever it may be) support their loved ones sustainably.

“Unpaid caregivers are burnt out emotionally, physically, and financially, so that’s what we’re trying to solve.”

“Part of what informed Yurtle’s conception was my vicarious experience through a colleague. At the time, he was 30 years old, thriving at work, and happily married, but within six months of the wedding, his wife was diagnosed with stage 2 intestinal cancer. He suddenly became her caregiver, but what was most shocking after that diagnosis was his father broke his hip so he became his caregiver at a distance too,” Antonio recounted.

“Anyone can become a caregiver from one day to the next, and while people associate this with older demographics, 8% of the UK’s caregiving community are 21 years old or younger.”

Antonio believes employers have three buckets of costs for failing to support carers in the workplace, but the same number of motivations. “People are losing senior staff because as we get older, that positively correlates with our chances of becoming a caregiver […] 6.5mn adults in the UK are ‘sandwich caregivers’ so they risk losing their best people,” he said. Notably, two in three women will walk away from employment or promotion if they’re unable to reconcile work and caregiving responsibilities. This proves that women disproportionately take the burden of caregiving as it’s “still the role that society gives them by and large.”

“This impacts their ability to thrive and meet success in the workplace to the same degree as an equivalent male.”

Meanwhile, productivity continues to dwindle with high levels of both absenteeism and presenteeism in the UK workforce. “When something happens to a loved one, you’re going to re-schedule work commitments so you can support them,” he explained,” so it’s interesting to see that existing protection products on the market don’t have provision for managing absence due to caregiving.”

Antonio highlighted that employers have been investing time and funds into addressing gender disparity as it relates to pensions, pay, and women in senior leadership via fertility and menopause support, but “what’s coming through is that caregiving is the single largest driver of the gender pension gap – this is just mindblowing.”

“This means women are more likely to gain less wealth over time but critically when they return to the workforce, some are taking fewer hours.”

Last year, Scottish Widows’ ‘Women & Retirement’ report (which surveyed 5,000 adults in the UK aged 22-65 years old) found that 37% of mothers have left employment and 47% have reduced hours despite 50% of fathers believing they split childcare equally with their partner. Notably, 11% of mothers stopped working after parental leave compared to just 3% of fathers, while 20% took an extended career break (averaging 2.5 years) after parental leave.

READ MORE: Scottish Widows ‘Beat the Gap’ campaign hit by sexist comments on International Women's Day

Discussing Yurtle’s offering, Antonio explained that it was built to map out the four key drivers of burnout that they’d heard and seen from caregivers. One of these drivers was the lack of a contingency plan. If working hours can’t accommodate caregiving schedules, this can cause unnecessary anxiety and quite literally keep people up at night.

Another major driver is the information gap. Antonio said that it’s quite common for caregivers to think, “I don’t know what questions to ask but it’s a high-stakes job for someone that I love, so I’ve got this constant sense of guilt that I’m not doing enough.” Similarly, caregivers often feel isolated in delivering these responsibilities, experiencing guilt whenever they take on additional workplace commitments or when requesting annual leave to spend time with family.

“Caregivers are robbing from their future to pay for their present.”

Yurtle is comprised of insurance and an app. Antonio said the best way to understand its insurance (underwritten by Starr International) is a “continuity of care promise.” If a policyholder experienced ill-health or injury which prevented them from fulfilling their caregiving responsibilities, Yurtle would step in and coordinate support from its professional caregiver network, free of charge. So far, the fastest caregiver placement has been achieved in 32 minutes.

In the event of hospitalisation, disability, or death, Yurtle will either pay a daily amount or lump sum benefit that’s equivalent to five months of care so that someone can step into the affected caregiver’s shoes.  These funds go directly to that caregiver’s bank account, so they have full autonomy as to how it’s spent.

“Yurtie is a digital care ally that steps into their life and helps them organise care, understand their care load, and utilise relevant tools.”

Yurtle’s USP is helping to build a care team that’s ahead of any challenges caregivers may face. Therefore, Yurtle's app, Yurtie, allows users to add friends, family, or even neighbours who can help with caregiving tasks. “This allows people to know exactly what role they’re playing and helps them feel valued,” Antonio explained.

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