Spann, A., Allard, C., Harvey, A. C., Zwerger, K., Spreeuwenberg, M., Hawley, M., & de Witte, L. (2022). The impact of autonomy at work on dementia family carers’ ability to manage care-related emergencies, and use technology to that end: semi-structured interviews in Scotland. Community, Work & Family, 1-23.

Most people with dementia (PwD) are cared for by unpaid family carers, many of whom must balance caring with paid work. This regularly entails dealing with care-related emergencies (CRE). This study aims to explore the impact of carers’ autonomy at work regarding breaks, schedule, and place on their ability to manage CRE, and use technology to that end. We conducted interviews with 16 working carers of PwD in Scotland. Data were analysed thematically to identify key themes. Autonomy at work appeared on a spectrum from no to complete autonomy. Carers’ position on this spectrum was often dynamic and determined by the nature of their work, their workplace culture and regulations, and their line managers’ support – or clients in the case of self-employed carers. Break autonomy allowed carers to use technology to be notified of and delegate the CRE response. Schedule autonomy allowed for an in-person response to CRE. Place autonomy allowed carers to work and care simultaneously, which enabled them to manage CRE immediately but presented them with additional challenges. Distance between workplace and PwD’s residence impacted carers’ ability to manage CRE, despite having complete autonomy. Implications for healthcare professionals, service providers, employers, policymakers, and technology developers are presented.