Merck, a leading science and technology company, today released the results of a global survey conducted though its Embracing Carers™ initiative exploring the impact of Covid-19 on informal or family carers. The index results show that the pandemic has impacted the physical, emotional, and financial health of carers worldwide, underlining the necessity for clear actions from the public and private sectors to alleviate the increased pressures placed on carers since the outbreak of Covid-19.
The Carer Well-Being Index was commissioned in partnership with global carer advocacy groups and surveyed a broad sample of over 9,000 carers across 12 countries in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, who are providing informal care for a loved one with a long-term illness, physical disability, or cognitive/mental condition.
The study’s findings demonstrate that Covid-19 has forced many people to assume caregiving responsibilities for the first time, with 20% of informal carers globally reporting themselves as first-time carers as a result of the pandemic. In addition, the results show that the pandemic has increased demands on carers more than ever before, with two out of five carers (39%) around the world reporting they are being relied on more than ever as a caregiver.
Globally, during the height of the pandemic in each country, the average time carers spent caregiving grew by 7.6 hours per week compared to before the pandemic hit; an increase of 46%. In addition, approximately a third of carers (32%) reported that they believe they will spend an average of 31 or more hours per week caregiving in the future due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. An increase in the average weekly time spent giving care at the height of the pandemic was seen in every country surveyed, from carers in Germany providing an additional 3.7 hours of care to China’s carers who spent 15.4 more hours a week, compared to pre-pandemic times.
“Carers play a critical, underappreciated role within the global healthcare ecosystem, often at the sacrifice of their own health and well-being,” said Heather Connor, Global Head of Communications for the Healthcare business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “Our aim is that the Carer Well-Being Index study will serve as a resource for government leaders, employers, community organizations and people around the world seeking to better understand the needs of carers, and provide recommendations on how to best address this unmet public health priority.”
Key findings from the Global Carer Well-Being Index include:
- Increased Emotional Burden: Over half of carers (65%) report that providing emotional support is one of their top responsibilities as a carer, with 57% of those carers saying this responsibility has only increased since the outbreak started. 61% of carers reported that the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened their own mental and emotional health.
- Telehealth & Technology: 51% of carers have seen an increase in managing technology*, when it comes to virtual medical appointments and/or keeping touch with loved ones. Additional needs for telehealth guidance were particularly pronounced in Asia.
- Financial Impact: Slightly more than half of carers (54%) agree the pandemic has worsened their financial health, and 71% are concerned that they will no longer be able to afford to provide proper care.
Almost all carers (96%) globally surveyed agree that it’s important to have increased access to health care services to ensure they are able to provide proper care needed, pointing to the important role both the public and private sector can play in better supporting informal carers.
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