2020 Spotlight on Ontario Caregivers – COVID-19 Edition
Survey Reveals 54% of family caregivers find it harder to manage their caregiving responsibilities since the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the third annual Spotlight on Ontario’s Caregivers Report – COVID-19 Edition, The Ontario Caregiver Organization shines a light on how and to what extent COVID-19 has disrupted the experience of caregivers, whose lives are already impacted in so many ways. Last year, we partnered with The Change Foundation on the 2019 report, and this year we are leading the whole process.
In looking at the results of this year’s survey, some themes surprised us, while others were expected.
Being at home is easing the pressure on half of working caregivers, because they are taking less time off and employers are more understanding and flexible. On the flip side, there is little or no opportunity for a break, in large part because there is less outside help available. There is a notable increase in the financial burden of caregiving, due in part to the pandemic. Additionally, based on our mini-surveys in the spring and summer of 2020, we can anticipate that there will be an entirely new group of caregivers emerging as a result of COVID-19. For those who had COVID-19, there are some who are dealing with long-term effects of the illness. The temporary suspension of health services, while necessary to ensure capacity within the healthcare system may put some at risk for more progressed health issues and concerns.
Family caregivers will continue to play a significant role in our healthcare system during COVID-19 and beyond. In so many ways, the pandemic has had immeasurable impact on close family members and friends who are providing care and additional support. The Ontario Caregiver Organization is committed to monitoring these impacts and providing resources and supports to meet the continually evolving needs of caregivers.
An online survey was conducted by an independent third-party polling firm (Pollara Strategic Insights) with self-reported caregivers in Ontario, 16 years of age and older, from September 10 to 25, 2020. 825 participants answered ‘yes’ to the following question:
During the past 12 months, have you cared for someone who needed support due to frailty, palliative care, long-term illness, long-term recovery from accident or surgery, degenerative disease, physical, mental health challenge or disability, or old age-related disorder? The need for this care could be due to COVID-19 diagnosis or be unrelated to it. By this we mean providing help or care, usually without pay, to a family member, friend, neighbor or anyone else. This help may be personal and can include certain tasks such as helping with housework, cooking meals and feeding, bathing and toileting needs, help with outdoor tasks, or anything else. It may also include providing physical support, assisting in certain healthcare related tasks such as monitoring medication, coordinating for or attending doctor’s appointments or conducting basic medical procedures. This care can also be social or psychological such that you are providing support or company to the person to enable them to be more socially included, driving them, shopping with or for them, or anything else.
83% of respondents care for someone in their home or in the care recipient’s home.
While quotas were put in place to ensure representation across demographics and region, results have been weighted to be reflective of the total population of caregivers in Ontario.
Margin of error is not applicable to this study due to its online methodology. However, as a guideline, the margin of error on a representative sample of 825 would be ±3.4%, nineteen times out of twenty