Those who provide care for friends, family, or members of the community can often lose sight of their own health and well-being. In an interview with Jasmine Greenamyer, our Head of Global Strategic Partnerships, we discover how the company is recognizing this valuable contribution – providing support via our Embracing Carers initiative…
Jasmine, how does our Embracing Carers initiative work? What are its goals and what assistance does it offer?
Embracing Carers™ is a global initiative that aims to fill the need for better support and recognition of carers. We are focused on improving carers’ health and wellness, while increasing awareness and support for them within healthcare systems around the globe.
What role does the company play in the initiative and how does it contribute to our sustainability commitments?
We partner with nine leading carer organizations globally to fulfill our mission. We also support the company's Embracing Carers Employee Resource Group that is spearheaded by Emilie Weight.
The company has tens of thousands of employees, some of which may also be carers. Can they seek assistance too?
Absolutely! Thanks to company leadership, we have a robust Employee Assistance program, which supports mental and emotional well-being by offering free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling for employees and family members and is accessible 24/7 by phone helpline. The program also offers free advice and referrals in critical personal and work situations.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected carers? Has the initiative been able to provide additional help for those most in need?
The pandemic has dramatically affected carers and we know this directly from 9,000 carers from 12 different countries. This past September, we launched a global survey among unpaid male and female carers to get a holistic understanding of the short and long-term impact COVID-19 has had on carers. Key findings include: 1) The pandemic has particularly exacerbated the emotional and financial challenges facing women carers, parents of young children, older carers, and other vulnerable communities, and 2) All carers are caring for more hours each day – often impacting their employment, families, and overall well-being.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges carers face today and how can they be addressed?
Right now, carers are navigating caring for their loved ones during a pandemic. So, the demands on their time, finances, and general well-being are immense. I highly encourage employers to ensure they have a culture of supporting carers through permanent, flexible working arrangements and carer support groups. Governments must also minimize the financial burdens of carers, and for healthcare centers, to offer training and resources for carers – as individuals, and as partners in caring for patients.
Our Global Carer Survey found that nearly half of unpaid carers develop feelings of depression – with 3 in 5 requiring medical care for a resulting mental health condition.
Do you feel your employer provides enough resources or assistance for caregiving colleagues?
With regard to the initiative, what are your hopes for the future and how can the company – and society – contribute?
As a healthcare company, we know how critical carers are to the patient journey. But, as a society, we need to also support the carer journey by making sure they not only have training and timely information (and resources to help their loved ones), but that they are celebrated for their immense public health contribution and that they are supported systemically in the workplace, by their governments, and insurers.