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The impact of the pandemic on informal caregivers

The Regroupement des Aidants Natuels du Québec unveils a survey with eloquent results

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate distribution

Montreal, August 28th, 2020 – Over the past few months, informal caregivers have experienced exceptional situations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that they have the best resources and support should such a situation arise again, the Regroupement des Aidants Naturels du Québec (RANQ) has conducted a survey to find out « how caregivers have lived through this difficult time ». Today, the organization is revealing the results of this survey, which has shed light on the challenges that informal caregivers are experiencing and still encounter on a daily basis, as well as the extent of the repercussions that the health crisis has had on them.

For the RANQ, the observation is clear: informal caregivers quickly need better financial support, more adequate accompaniment, and more support in order to alleviate their physical and mental exhaustion. This conclusion affects caregivers who care for a senior (58%), as well as those who care for an adult who is sick or has a disability (33%) or a child who is sick or has a disability (9%).

Highlights

Here are the main findings of the survey.

Informal caregivers facing the crisis
  • 20% of informal caregivers saw their expenses related to their role of caregiving increase by an average of almost $900.
  • 64% had no financial assistance, whether it was from the Canada Emergency Benefit (ECP), the Canada Student Emergency Benefit (CUSB), the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CESG), Employment Insurance, Compassionate Care Benefits for a dying family member, or Caregiver Leave Benefits for a gravely ill family member.
  • 57% occasionally felt they lacked resources to look after the person they care for.
The importance of ongoing support, even in times of crisis
  • At the time of confinement, 28% of the informal caregivers who responded to the survey did not benefit from a support system.
  • The services that informal caregivers would have needed most during the time of confinement were :
    • 22%, support with household chores
    • 18%, periods of respite at home
    • 16%, periods of respite away from home
    • 15%, individual psychosocial support by telephone
The significant impact on physical and mental health
  • The health crisis has had a significant impact on the physical and mental health of informal caregivers. Many say they feel exhausted:
  • 29% no longer feel very fit and have less and less energy.
  • 25% say they are rather sad and irritable, no longer feel like taking care of themselves and feel overwhelmed.
The definite impact of returning to work for informal caregivers who were working before the pandemic.
  • 31% of respondents who were working before the pandemic did not work during the containment and by early July had not returned to work for fear of infecting the person they care for.
  • 22% of them did not return to work because they do not have respite or care-aid for the person they care for.
Fears related to the second wave of COVID-19
  • Informal caregivers have two main concerns specifically related to the coronavirus and the possibility of a second wave:
    • 57% of them are afraid that the person they care for will get sick.
    • 49% of informal caregivers are afraid of getting sick themselves.
RANQ reaches out to the government

As Quebec prepares for a possible second wave of the pandemic, the RANQ wants to raise awareness among decision-makers and the population about the pressing needs of informal caregivers. The intended purpose of this approach is to improve the support offered to informal caregivers and to ensure they are better accompanied, especially given the pandemic context. The RANQ hopes to work alongside the government and put its more than 20 years of expertise and experience to good use in implementing concrete measures so that informal caregivers can continue to fully assume their role while preserving their physical and mental health.

Quotes

« On June 11, an important step was taken with the introduction of Bill 56 to recognize and support informal caregivers. While this bill is essential, the resulting action plan will not be in effect for several months. As well, while the new Canada Economic Recovery Benefit (CERB) responds to certain situations encountered by employed informal caregivers, several concerns remain. Moreover, our survey confirms that it is important that mechanisms for direct financial support to informal caregivers be developed quickly and that, in the meantime, assistance be provided to them. They cannot wait any longer, their physical and mental health is at stake.’’

– Mélanie Perroux, General Coordinator of the Regroupement des Aidants Naturels du Québec (RANQ)

« Informal aregivers have had a very difficult time dealing with the pandemic. While some were already exhausted, the COVID-19 crisis increased the psychological and physical exhaustion. A second wave of the pandemic is expected: we must prevent this gap from widening any further. We, therefore, reiterate our willingness to be a partner with the government to actively collaborate in the work of the Partners Committee and the Observatoire québécois de la proche aidance in order to present our recommendations and contribute to the implementation of support measures.’’

-Johanne Audet, Chair of the Board of Directors, Regroupement des Aidants Naturels du Québec (RANQ)

About the RANQ

Founded in 2000, the Regroupement des Aidants Naturels du Québec (RANQ) brings together 102 members representing more than 22,000 informal caregivers across Quebec. All our members, whether they are associations, groups, or local and regional organizations, have the mission to improve the living conditions of informal caregivers by offering a range of services from psychosocial support to respite services and outreach activities.

Source : Regroupement des Aidants Naturels du Québec, Mélanie Perroux, General Coordinator

Read the complete results of the survey

For more information