More working fathers report taking time off to look after sick children than their female counterparts, according to a recent survey by health app Evergreen Life. The figures from Evergreen Life suggest a shift in social attitudes towards childcare, as well as flexible working, as mothers have historically been considered the primary childcare providers.

Of those surveyed, the percentage of men taking time off work was higher consistently across four of six categories (1-5 days, 6-10 days, 11-15 days, and 16-20 days). The unexpected figures point to changing attitudes by both employers and employees to the work/life balance and the perceived role of fathers within childcare. As flexible working becomes more prevalent and the working roles of men and women evolve, fathers find themselves with better opportunities to share childcare duties.

Unexpected figures point to changing attitudes by both employers and employees to the work/life balance and the perceived role of fathers within childcare.

The cost of childcare

The Evergreen Life survey questioned 1,000 parents from across the UK who have children under 12-years-old. The survey revealed that 1 in 10 parents currently take more than 10 days off work (effectively two working weeks) each year to care for their ill child.

London was the region hardest hit, with over a fifth (21.3%) of respondents replying that they were absent from work for more than 10 days a year, reflecting that some areas require improved access to health and better support networks for parents. Northern Ireland came out best, with only 7.7% taking more than 10 days off work.

The survey also highlighted that looking after a sick child costs parents an estimated £231 a year on average, with 1 in 7 parents saying it costs them over £500 a year. Parents with children who've got a long-term health condition, like asthma, allergies, or diabetes, pay over a third more towards medical care - £327 compared to £192. Additionally, they were over five times more likely to take over 10 days off work than others (39.8% to 6.91% respectively). 

57% of respondents feel that they wait too long to get an appointment with a GP or medical professional, with an equal 57% of UK parents spending up to 15 hours a month simply arranging and attending their children’s medical appointments.

Stephen Critchlow, CEO at Evergreen, explained:

“With this survey, we wanted to see to what extent looking after a sick child impacted the life of a parent. The consequences are two-fold: firstly, parents lose valuable working hours, which may then have to be made up elsewhere, or by using up holiday; and secondly, parents may miss out on income as a result. And we know that better incomes tend to mean better health and wellness."

Take control of your family's health

Health apps like Evergreen Life help achieve efficiency, allowing you to take ownership of your health records. During visits to the doctor or hospital, having access to your health records from the palm of your hands can significantly lessen the burden for parents and health services alike.

Stephen Critchlow added that "utilising technology, such as apps that monitor health in an ongoing way and which allow you to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions quickly and easily, will help to manage and minimise the impact on the day-to-day. This was one of the prime reasons we created Evergreen Life, to give people better control of their healthcare.

"Our idea behind the Evergreen Life app is to hand control of the appointment process to patients. Connected to all three major GP services and accredited by the NHS, the Evergreen Life app keeps people better involved when dealing with NHS health clinicians. The app also grants patients control over their health records so that they can update them when necessary. For parents with children with chronic health conditions, especially, this can be an essential tool for tracking and maintaining a correct record of their child’s health, to be shared with medical professionals.”

Digital health is the future

58% of survey respondents believed that digital and online medical services would make arranging appointments and looking after their children’s health easier.

With the UK digital health market expected to be worth almost £3bn in 2018, the potential to take preventative measures through the digital management of personal health has never been greater. In April 2017, the NHS launched its Digital Apps Library, in part to alleviate the pressure on the health service by offering a selection of apps designed to facilitate booking GP appointments, manage fitness, allergies and mental wellbeing.

“Using digital health services can also be beneficial on a macro level. People taking time out of work to care for their children means a less efficient labour force. Meanwhile, visits to the GP surgery or hospital are costly for the NHS. An increased uptake in the number of people using digital health services would help to alleviate the pressures of these issues,” Stephen Critchlow concluded.

Take control of yours and your family's health today with the Evergreen Life app.