INTERNATIONAL REPORTS

Responses to 3.12. Measures to support unpaid carers


Australia

Carers Australia have published resources and guides to help informal carers throughout the pandemic. The government has not introduced specific funding support for unpaid carers, however, unpaid carers are eligible for the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Supplement.

Funding for the My Aged Care website and phone services was boosted through an extra $12.3m to support. The Carer Gateway website also provides information for family carers.

Most unpaid carers are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines as part of the phase 1b of the vaccination rollout (which started in March 2021).

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Austria

Austria has supported carers through telephone hotlines (for psychological counselling, self-help, guidance, resources). An online course for unpaid carers is being provided by the Austrian Red cross. The national dementia strategy and the Austrian carers association provide links to NGO support. (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/The-COVID-19-Long-Term-Care-situation-in-Austria-13-July-1.pdf). An article by Leichsenring and colleagues published in the Journal of Long-Term Care highlights the limited support available for unpaid carers.

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Brazil

In Brazil a number of organisations have developed technical and educational guidelines. The Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights established a website to provide family carers and people with long-term care needs with information around the COVID-19 pandemic. Some organisations have also established psychosocial activities (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/COVID-19-Long-term-care-situation-in-Brazil-6-May-2020.pdf).

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Canada (British Columbia)

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was offered between March 15, 2020 and September 26, 2020. Individuals were eligible if they stopped working due to taking care of a family member with COVID-19, having a disability with usual care not available because of COVID-19, or a child because schools are closed. CERB has now been discontinued; however, unpaid carers are eligible for the Canada Recovery Care Benefit (CRCB). CRCB provides income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care (https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html#eligible; https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-caregiving-benefit.html).

As part of British Columbia’s emergency COVID-19 response plan, BC doubled 2020 funding for Family Caregivers of British Columbia to $1 million CAD. Family Caregivers of British Columbia is a non-for-profit organization that provides support for over 1 million unpaid carers (https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020HLTH0141-000763).

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Denmark

There is a dedicated page on Danish Health Authority website  on how to manage COVID-19 among older populations in the home (https://www.sst.dk/da/corona/Information-til-fagpersoner/Sundheds–og-plejesektoren).

Overall, the informal carers have not been supported systematically; there are some cash benefits for carers, but by far the majority of LTC offers are directed at the claimants and not their relatives. However, there are offers of respite care (source: Publications catalogue – Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion – European Commission (europa.eu).

Last updated: September 16th, 2021


England (UK)

After few measures to support unpaid carers initially, support for unpaid carers increased over time. This included specific guidance for unpaid carers, enabling unpaid carers experiencing symptoms to be tested; providing unpaid carers should with letters enabling to identify needs related to carer role. A major source of support for many working carers was the furlough scheme that enabled them to maintain up to 80% income.

Carers were included in priority group 6 for COVID-19 vaccination.

The government provided additional funding for the Carer UK helpline.

(Source: https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/International-measures-to-support-unpaid-carers-in-manage-the-COVID19-situation-17-June.pdf)

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Finland

Section 5.5 of the LTC Covid Report (page 12) provides a review of the work of Carers Finland, an organization that during the pandemic has collected information and testimonials from informal carers. Key themes from their research include heightened loneliness and isolation; decreased physical and mental functioning; emotional and logistical struggles in accessing external services; inadequate means of support (e.g. internet calls) (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ltccovid-country-reports_Finland_120620.pdf).

Formal measures for support remain unclear.  As in other countries, NGO services, such as the member associations of Carers Finland provided remote services over the phone or through virtual meetings (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ltccovid-country-reports_Finland_120620.pdf).

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


France

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Germany

The Federal Government has issued support measures for unpaid carers during the COVID-19 pandemic (so far valid until 31 March 2021). These include ‘Care Support Payment’, which covers carers pay for up to 20 working days when they need to cover care during the pandemic or if they need to provide care that cannot be replaced by someone else. Working carers can also take ‘family care time’ if they have not used the maximum number of days. Family carers can request an interest free loan or to get loss of income during the pandemic recognised in repayment scheduling (https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/themen/corona-pandemie/informationen-fuer-pflegende-angehoerige).

The German Society of Nursing Science has developed new guidance on how domiciliary carers can support unpaid carers, this includes offering training on hygiene measures for family carers; informing family carers about available support structures and services; family carers to receive psychosocial support or to be provided with information about psychosocial support (https://www.awmf.org/uploads/tx_szleitlinien/184-002l_S1_Haeusliche-Versorgung-soziale-Teilhabe-Lebensqualitaet-bei-Menschen-mit-Pflegebedarf-COVID19-Pandemie_2020-12.pdf).

In Bavaria unpaid carers receive three FFP2 masks for free through their local government. (https://www.pflegeberatung.de/corona)

Last updated: September 7th, 2021   Contributors: Klara Lorenz-Dant  |  


India

Organisations in India provide COVID-19 information for people with disabilities/LTC needs and their family carers. One organisation has developed an app to enable family carers to access expert advice. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare provided online medication, yoga videos, advice on mental health support and a psychosocial behavioural helpline. Some states have set up dedicated services (helplines) and organisations have implemented virtual interventions. Guidelines by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment state that family carers should be issued with travel passes (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/LTC-COVID-situation-in-India-30th-May.pdf).

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Indonesia

Some social assistance programme were put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, from which unpaid carers may have benefited. The Ministry of Social Affairs plans to increase the number of social security beneficiary programmes for older people (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/The-COVID-19-Long-Term-Care-situation-in-Indonesia-30-May-1.pdf).

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Ireland

A number of organisations in Ireland developed material, helplines and remote interventions to support family carers during the pandemic. Those qualifying for Carers Allowance will receive payments. Those who have lost their jobs can receive the Pandemic Unemployment Payment in addition to their Carers Allowance (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/International-measures-to-support-unpaid-carers-in-manage-the-COVID19-situation-17-June.pdf).

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Israel

Information on support to unpaid (family) carers is unclear beyond the stipend received by all citizens and increased accessibility of unemployment benefits; an updated January 2021 guidelines document is available , which lists counselling services and call centers as primary measures for support.

The Ministry of Health also provided a guide for carers of people with dementia.

Last updated: September 8th, 2021


Japan

Japan has offered payments to all citizens as part of their economic stimulus packages, which may help offset some of the economic burden of care (AHWIN, 2020 in https://ageingasia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/COVID_LTC_Report-Final-20-November-2020.pdf).

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Netherlands

The Dutch government issued guidelines for informal carers. These guidelines include advice on hygiene standards and guidelines on how a caregiver should act if the person they provide care to develops symptoms of COVID-19 (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/COVID19-Long-Term-Care-situation-in-the-Netherlands-25-May-2020-1.pdf).

All family care caregivers that experience symptoms of COVID-19 have been able to get tested since 18 May 2020. In addition, family carers could access free PPE from 19 May 2020 if they support vulnerable people (70 years and older, with chronic conditions) who experience symptoms of COVID-19 and where personal care (with less than 1.5 metres distance) is required (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/COVID19-Long-Term-Care-situation-in-the-Netherlands-25-May-2020-1.pdf).

Municipalities have set up support desks to help distressed informal carers and the role of the General Practitioner (GP) to support has been emphasised (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/COVID-19-Long-Term-Care-situation-in-the-Netherlands-_-the-second-wave-25-November-2020-2.pdf).

Guidelines advise that GPs play an important role in supporting unpaid carers.

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


New Zealand

Unpaid carers in New Zealand can get a carer support subsidy from the Ministry of Health. The funding guidelines were relaxed to support carers during Alert levels 2-4, this included expanding the guidelines of what could be purchased, allowing a resident family member to be paid and support with finding a support worker (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/The-LTC-COVID-situation-in-New-Zealand-9-August-2020.pdf).

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Republic of Korea

Family members were paid to provide the necessary care to older adults care at the same wage as professional caregivers after they receive two hours of training (https://ageingasia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/COVID_LTC_Report-Final-20-November-2020.pdf).

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Spain

The Mecudia plan (initiated 18 March 2020) enables people with work and care responsibilities to request an adjustment or reduction of their working arrangement to support the person with care needs. In addition, people who are financially vulnerable, including unpaid carers who experience a substantial loss of income can apply for a mortgage debt moratorium. Some municipal governments have also produced information material, helplines or phone counselling. NGOs have also provided information and support (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/LTCcovid-Spain-country-report-28-May-1.pdf). In addition, resources to support unpaid carers have been developed (https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/International-measures-to-support-unpaid-carers-in-manage-the-COVID19-situation-17-June.pdf).

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


Sweden

There were no specific measures to support unpaid carers, but there is evidence that the burden of care increased during pandemic for unpaid carers based on the analysis by Stockholm Gerontology Research Centre (paper is yet to be published by Gerontology Institute, communication from Lennarth Johansson, 27/01/2021).

The Corona Commission highlights some general financial measures which could well benefit unpaid carers (although these were not aimed specifically at unpaid carers) e.g. financial compensation to people in certain risk groups who have entirely or partly ceased undertaking paid work to avoid being infected with COVID-19.

Last updated: September 7th, 2021


United States

During the pandemic Medicaid allowed more people with care needs to hire family members as paid carers.

Home-based tele-health has been expanded and the Care Act requires a caregiver to be registered within people’s health records.

Some US guidance includes unpaid carers in the vaccination priority list.

(Source: https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/International-measures-to-support-unpaid-carers-in-manage-the-COVID19-situation-17-June.pdf)

Last updated: September 7th, 2021