Project Description

It’s time we start taking care of those providing care

Advances in critical care medicine and increased life expectancy have dramatically improved the survival of critically ill and elderly patients requiring prolonged care at home.

Taking care of critically ill patients is a very testing responsibility and patient support by home care has undergone relevant improvements in the last decade.

However, caregivers have a critical and heavy job to carry out at patient discharge and they still today represent a widely neglected category, which in itself is at high risk of health issues.

Indeed, there are still very few resources to support those who take care of critically ill patients and with the increasing trend towards early hospital discharge, it is time these should be addressed.

A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine evaluated health outcomes for caregivers during the first year after patient discharge from an intensive Care Unit (ICU).

But who are caregivers? From information collected caregivers are in 70% of cases women, in their early 50s and in most cases they are taking care of their spouse.

The rather shocking figure that this study revealed is that a large proportion of caregivers (67%) reported high levels of depressive symptoms which in 16% of cases persisted in time without decreasing.

These figures signify a need for increased attention and hopefully a call to action in support of thousands of people who undergo massive and enduring burdens and represent a high risk group for mental health outcomes.
It is time that we start taking more care of our caregivers.

References: N Eng J Med 2016, doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1511160