‘Governments must expand capacity in home-based long-term care services so that caregivers receive the supports they need’
COVID-19 has increased demands and pressures on unpaid caregivers, and this has caused unprecedented burnout (70 per cent) across 12 countries, according to a report from EMD Serono, Canada.
In Canada, 71 per cent of caregivers are feeling more burnout than ever. More than half also claim worsening financial (55 per cent) health.
Forty-two per cent say they have had increased homecare responsibilities due to the pandemic, with 64 per cent of caregivers in Canada saying their primary responsibility is to manage doctors' appointments.
“This study shows that the pandemic has placed added demands and strain, which is taking a toll on their health and well-being,” said Nadine Henningsen, CEO, Canadian Home Care and Carers Canada. “Our experiences from COVID-19 have shown that governments must expand capacity in home-based long-term care services and access to primary health care so that caregivers receive the supports they need from our healthcare system.”
Nearly half of men and women say that they are unable to focus on work while their kids are home, according to a survey by LinkedIn released in September 2020. And for employees who cannot work their regular working hours due to caregiving needs, 83 per cent of Canadian are providing flex time as accommodation, according to a survey by the Conference Board of Canada released in April 2020.
More than half (51 per cent) of caregivers in Canada also say the pandemic has worsened their physical health. This is above the 46 per cent rate in 12 countries in the Carer Well-Being Index, based on the survey of 9,044 caregivers across 12 countries, including 755 unpaid carers in Canada.
Also, 70 per cent of caregivers in Canada say the pandemic has worsened their emotional/mental health, compared with an average of 61 per cent in 12 other countries.
“Our experiences from COVID-19 have shown that governments must invest in our health and social care systems, so patients and their caregivers can thrive where they most want to be – at home,” said Jo-Anne Poirier, president and CEO, VON Canada. “Expanding home care capacity and access to primary health care are two urgent priorities.”
According to a report released in December 2020, 10 per cent of Canadians are experiencing recent thoughts or feelings of suicide, up from six per cent in the previous spring and 2.5 per cent throughout pre-pandemic 2016.
Speaking to COS last year, Dr. Geoff Soloway, a mindfulness expert and one of the founders of MindWell-U, said that mindfulness is a tool that can help with employee well-being: “Another way to look at mindfulness is as a quality of self-awareness, an ability to regulate our emotions, which is important in all of our interactions.”
This can also be an important tool for employees to help them to take time out and relax. Aside from practicing mindfulness, workers should be carving breaks out in the day – as they would in the workplace – to disconnect, relax and practice self-care. For employers, this could be, for example, putting together short yoga sessions via Skype or Zoom for their employees.