EMD Serono's Embracing Carers™ Announces Study Results on COVID-19 and Caregivers

EMD Serono, the healthcare business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the U.S. and Canada, today announced that its Embracing Carers™ initiative has unveiled the results of a new study.

18 Nov 2020 | Rockland, Massachusetts, United States of America
  • U.S. study results released during National Family Caregiver Month find COVID-19 has increased demands on unpaid caregivers.
  • Embracing Carers™, a global initiative led by EMD Serono, raises awareness about the often-overlooked needs of unpaid caregivers and develops solutions collaboratively with global caregiving organizations.

ROCKLAND, Mass., Nov. 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- EMD Serono, the healthcare business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the U.S. and Canada, today announced that its Embracing Carers™ initiative has unveiled the results of a new study exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the caregiver community in the United States. Its first ever Carer Well-Being Index, launched during National Family Caregivers Month, surveyed 750 Americans across various demographics who are providing unpaid care for a loved one with a long-term illness, physical disability, or cognitive/mental condition to learn how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their physical, emotional and financial health.

Overall, the study showed that COVID-19 has increased demands and pressures on unpaid caregivers, including increasing the time and percentage of Americans who have responsibilities caring for loved ones with health conditions. The average time Americans spend caregiving has grown 7.4 hours per week since the pandemic began in the U.S. and shows no sign of letting up; nearly a third (30%) of American caregivers believe they'll spend 41 or more hours per week caregiving in the future due to the impact of the pandemic. This is likely due in part to the growth of caregiver distrust in assisted living, retirement communities and nursing homes, with nearly three quarters (72%) of respondents expressing concern that they will need to spend more time caregiving in the future because COVID-19 has made them distrust these institutions.

These challenges have economic impacts and are likely even more significant among those caregivers who must balance workplace responsibilities and as a result, fear job security. The study found that the majority (67%) of caregivers are concerned they will have to work full time remotely while also caregiving for the foreseeable future. More than half of caregivers (56%) are also concerned they will lose their job because of the time commitments needed to be a caregiver.

"Caregivers are a critical element of healthcare systems around the world, and as the results of our Carer Well-Being Index study have shown, they remain an underappreciated resource in times of COVID-19," said Heather Connor, Head of Global Communications, Healthcare at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. "Our company remains deeply committed to supporting caregivers. This survey further contributes to our ongoing efforts to make caregiver support visible and recognized as a global health priority."

Disproportional Impact on Female Caregivers and Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on caregivers has been particularly stark for women and ethnic/racial minorities. More support is needed for these groups in particular to address these inequities.

  • Notably, female caregivers are more likely than men to spend an average of 41+ hours per week on caregiving.
  • And the study found that women and racial/ethnic minority groups are being penalized with less financial resources to provide the proper care that is needed; in fact, of those whose financial health has worsened during the pandemic, racial/ethnic minority caregivers (28%) are more likely than white caregivers (14%) to have had their salaries reduced.

"The Embracing Carers report tells a critical story–that caregivers need more attention so that they can protect the people most at risk from COVID-19 and those who care for them," said C. Grace Whiting, J.D., President/CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving. "Notably, the research found that the women in our lives shoulder more care burden and aren't being heard. These are our mothers, sisters, aunts, and others who need our help. The research also makes clear that it's not enough just to talk about racial justice–we need to strengthen infrastructure for communities of color, where caregivers in racial or ethnic minorities face a greater risk from COVID-19 and less access to caregiving supports."

COVID-19 Increased Emotional Burden on Caregivers
Across the board, survey findings showed the added pressure and emotional burden on caregivers during these unprecedented times. And while there are rewarding elements to caregiving, it comes at a cost – and it's often on the caregivers' well-being, which includes physical, mental, financial and social outcomes.

  • While caregivers have long sacrificed their own time and energy to care for loved ones, nearly three-quarters of caregivers agree that caring for someone during the pandemic has caused them to feel more burnt out than ever before (72%), which jumps to 80% among Gen Z adults and Millennials.
  • The pandemic has had a negative impact on many caregivers' mental and physical health according to 68% and 44% of caregivers, respectively. One of the top reasons why caregivers feel their mental health has worsened is due to physical distancing/sequestering orders causing them to feel isolated and alone.

Further to its results, the Carer Well-Being Index examines the ways that the public and private sectors can better support unpaid caregivers in the short and long-term, while highlighting the areas in which more support is needed across different sectors including government, private sector, public sector and employers.

"Ultimately, practical steps for immediate and long-term relief is key," said Lisa Winstel, Chief Operating Officer, Caregiver Action Network. "We need more training, resources and financial support across the public and private sector. Together, we need to do more to ensure that caregivers have the resources and information they need to improve their quality of life."

The US survey results are part of a 12-country survey examining the impact of COVID-19 on unpaid caregivers around the world that will be launched in January 2021. The 12 countries surveyed include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, United States, India, Italy, Spain, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

To download the US Carer Well-Being Index report, please click here. For research, resources and more information for caregivers, please visit embracingcarers.com.

For more information, contact Melissa Beglin

About EMD Serono, Inc.
EMD Serono - the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the U.S. and Canada - is engaged in the discovery, research and development of medicines for patients with difficult to treat diseases. The business is committed to transforming lives by developing and delivering meaningful solutions that help address the therapeutic and support needs of individual patients. Building on a proven legacy and deep expertise in neurology, fertility and endocrinology, EMD Serono is developing potential new oncology and immuno-oncology medicines while continuing to explore potential therapeutic options for MS and other immunologic diseases. Today, the business has approximately 1,500 employees around the country with commercial, clinical and research operations based in the company's home state of Massachusetts. www.emdserono.com.

About Embracing Carers™
Embracing Carers™ is a global initiative led by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, operating as EMD Serono, EMD Millipore, and EMD Performance Materials in the United States and Canada. It is a collaboration with leading caregiver organizations around the world designed to increase awareness, discussion, and action about the often-overlooked needs of caregivers. Given that caregivers need support and often do not know where to turn for help, Embracing Carers™ was created to fill that void.

Carer Well-Being Index United States Methodology
In partnership with a third-party global leader in multinational market research, a survey was fielded online from September 3-24, 2020 among 750 unpaid caregivers in the United States.  Unpaid caregivers were defined as those who are caring for someone with a long-term illness, physical disability, or cognitive/mental condition (including cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Dementia, Alzheimer's, Spinal cord injury, Muscular Dystrophy, cognitive/mental condition, Congestive Heart Failure, etc.).  Outgoing sample collected was balanced to Census to then allow qualifying respondents to fall out naturally.  Light weighting was applied on race/ethnicity to achieve better national representation. At the 95% confidence level, the United States of America total for the unpaid caregiver population has an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points. The survey length was approximately 20-25 minutes.