Klara Lorenz-Dant and Adelina Comas-Herrera (Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science)
Please note that this article is currently under review with a journal and may be subject to change
Context: Unpaid carers are the backbone of long-term care (LTC) systems around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the pressure many unpaid carers experience, however, in contrast to people living in residential care settings, their experience has been largely absent from public reporting.
Objective: We aim to map the available evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on unpaid carers of adults with LTC needs to provide an overview of measures identified from the literature to address the impact.
Method: We conducted a rapid review of the academic and grey literature on unpaid carers of adults with LTC needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Findings: We identified five key themes that highlight the impact of COVID-19 on unpaid carers of people living in the community. These include changes in care responsibilities, concerns around COVID-19 infections, changes in the availability of formal and informal support, financial as well as physical and mental health implications. Unpaid carers of people in residential care settings reported difficulties in communicating with residents, concerns about quality of care and COVID-19 entering the care home. We also found that technology, financial assistance and support for working carers can help to mitigate these effects.
Limitations: The evidence reported in this review is based largely on cross-sectional data and some of the data reported relies on convenience samples.
Implications: We highlight the financial and health impact many unpaid carers experience. Given the vital support carers provide to adults with LTC needs policy makers should consider supporting unpaid carers to mitigate the negative impact on their lives.
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