Article | 02/16/22

Health Equity for Caregivers

It’s no longer news to payers that unpaid caregivers are a vital link to member health. They are frequent administrators of medication and transportation to/from medical appointments, influencers of site of care decisions, and custodians of daily life, healthy habits, safe living conditions and adherence to treatment plans.

Caregivers need the right information at the right time-and they need a compassionate guide to help them navigate their path.

Healthcare and caregiving are experienced differently by members of different communities. Many members and their caregivers face barriers to care and a lack of solutions that address their specific needs. Nearly 40% of caregivers in the U.S. are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). What’s more, LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be caregivers compared to non-LGBTQ+ people.

BIPOC caregivers are less likely than white caregivers to utilize formal support services and often view caregiving as an expected obligation or a cultural expectation. White individuals, on the other hand, are more likely to take on the role because of feelings of personal responsibility. According to this study, BIPOC caregivers may lack knowledge of available services, mistrust formal service providers, and face language barriers or a lack of culturally relevant services in their location. In addition, BIPOC caregivers tend to be younger that White caregivers, and they are more likely to face economic hardship or disruption to employment as a result of their caregiving responsibilities.

Caring for Caregivers

In the LGBTQ+ community, it’s common to have caregivers caring for their peers, close friends, and chosen family as opposed to biological family members. This is an example of community resilience that dates back to the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Those in the LGBTQ+ community tend to receive less respect or understanding from the health care system than caregivers who are caring for biological family members and therefore are assumed to have Power of Attorney or be recognized as a healthcare proxy.

When caregivers care for themselves, loved ones are 30% less likely to use the emergency room and 50% less likely to utilize the hospital.

In addition, LGBTQ+ caregivers have unique needs compared to cisgender caregivers. For example, they may be caring for older biological family members who do not support their lifestyle, placing an additional strain on their relationship. Or, the responsibility of caregiving may add to the stress associated with hiding one’s identity at work or in their social circles, further impacting physical and mental health.

When caregivers feel overwhelmed with the stress of caregiving tasks and aren’t able to receive the support they need, their own health and effectiveness can decline. Caregivers need the right information at the right time – and they need a compassionate guide to help them navigate their path.

When these caregivers can complete their caregiving tasks successfully while keeping themselves healthy, everyone benefits. Their loved ones are 30% less likely to use the emergency room and 50% less likely to utilize the hospital; when hospitalization is necessary, their loved ones have a length of stay that’s 13 days shorter.

Caregiver effectiveness and confidence will determine our health and wellness at a national level. To achieve health equity, it’s vital that every caregiver can navigate access to resources for their loved ones. This is a critical focus of the work we do at Carallel, and we hope that it is for your organization as well.

Watch this webinar and get in touch to learn more about how we’re promoting health equity for caregivers.

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