BOSTON - Today, ARCHANGELS, a start-up dedicated to supporting unpaid caregivers, with support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (Blue Cross) and the Mass Caregiving Initiative at the MassTech Collaborative, launched the Any Care Counts campaign, designed to increase recognition and support of unpaid caregivers in the Commonwealth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43 percent of adults nationwide serve as unpaid caregivers. The collaboration will increase awareness for this vital and often invisible role, that disproportionately impacts the most at-risk populations and can result in serious mental health consequences.
The goal of the Any Care Counts campaign is to highlight and address the impact that unpaid caregiving has on the Commonwealth and connect more of this population to available support resources. ARCHANGELS will offer free access to their Caregiver Intensity Index™, an online quiz that evaluates the drivers of intensity that many caregivers experience on a daily basis, such as family disagreements and financial stress, that can often lead to mental health impacts. Upon completion of this two-minute quiz, caregivers will receive their own 'Caregiver Intensity Score', find out if they are 'in the green' 'yellow' or 'red', and which four factors are driving and alleviating that intensity. Caregivers can also be immediately connected to the Commonwealth's existing support resources in their communities, like mental health support and home care services.
For every caregiver who gets their Intensity Score, a donation will be made to an organization supporting unpaid caregivers in Massachusetts. Each caregiver will have the option to make the donation in honor of a loved one.
In a study published in June, the ARCHANGELS' Caregiver Intensity Index was used in a national study of 10,000 participants conducted as part of the COVID-19 Outbreak Public Evaluation Initiative and co-authored by public health officials at the CDC. The data revealed that approximately 70% of all caregivers (parents, guardians, and/or those caring for someone aged 18+ years) reported adverse mental health symptoms, including symptoms of anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. Moreover, 85% of surveyed parents/guardians who are also adult caregivers (aka 'sandwich generation') reported adverse mental health symptoms; nearly 52% reported recent serious suicidal thoughts.
This campaign will initially be shared with Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts employees and will also target other Massachusetts employers and community organizations to raise awareness for unpaid caregiving. The Mass Caregiving Initiative at MassTech will support the Any Care Counts Campaign through an award to support promotion, outreach and awareness activities related to the campaign.
The Any Care Counts campaign will begin as a multi-media campaign to reach caregivers through different platforms, including e-mail and social media ads. Multiple employers and community leaders have also pledged to support the campaign – doing their part to provide invaluable recognition and support to the well over one million unpaid caregivers across our Commonwealth.
"Unpaid caregivers are all around us—you might be one yourself. These extraordinary humans serve as the backbone of our communities and invest enormous physical and emotional energy in caring for loved ones," said Alexandra Drane, Co-Founder/CEO of ARCHANGELS. "Being a caregiver is one of the most important jobs most of us will ever have, but it can also be one of the hardest—resulting in serious mental health impacts. In fact, recent data shows that 1 in 4 caregivers currently have an intensity score that is in the red. This campaign will amplify that effort in Massachusetts – providing vital support at a critical moment. We are beyond grateful to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Caregiver Initiative, and our partners for supporting this campaign – it will make a difference."
"Caregivers need help now more than ever, as we are experiencing staggering mental health impacts. But if we want to help caregivers, first we have to find them," said Anna Gosline, senior director of strategic initiatives at Blue Cross and executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care. "The Any Care Counts campaign is exciting because it's a new way to help caregivers raise their hands, reflect on the vital work they do and, importantly, start getting connected to support. Blue Cross is thrilled to be a part of this crucial work in reframing what it means to be a caregiver today."
"By providing support for caregivers through efforts like Any Care Counts, we can boost the Massachusetts economy by helping ensure a healthy and stable workforce," said Carolyn Kirk, Executive Director for Mass Tech Collaborative. "Technology and online tools like this can alleviate caregiver's health, financial, and emotional burdens, bringing about improved economic and social outcomes. This effort will raise awareness among our business community and our workforce, helping caregivers be seen and heard, while also connecting them to critical resources."
"The challenges of unpaid caregiving know no boundaries and have become increasingly difficult for individuals and families due to COVID-19," said Rev. Dr. Donnie Anderson, Interim Minister of Pilgrim United Church of Christ, New Bedford. "I applaud the Any Care Counts Campaign for banding together partners from the private and public sectors to reach unpaid caregivers in every community to raise awareness and promote positive change and encourage more employers and community leaders to learn more about this effort. Through knowledge, support and community, we can identify more caregivers of all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses and empower them with critical resources to make a meaningful difference."
"At Community Servings, we believe that health and wellbeing is a fundamental right for everyone, and we wholeheartedly support the mission of the Any Care Counts campaign to raise awareness and support for unpaid caregivers and their families across Massachusetts," said David Waters, CEO of Community Servings. "Our teams see unpaid caregivers all around us and are proud to lift them up one meal at a time to provide essential nourishment to chronically and critically ill individuals and their families, and we're committed to a movement that can recognize and empower more people to get the support they need and deserve to lead a healthier life."
ARCHANGELS is a national movement and a platform that is reframing how caregivers are seen, honored, and supported using a combination of data and stories. ARCHANGELS believes that shining a light on caregivers is the first step, and has created a software platform, called the Caregiver Intensity Index (CII), as an online tool to engage all caregivers-- even if they don't see themselves in that role. This platform provides a 'score' that not only validates the caregiver experience, but crosswalks them over to a wide range of existing resources that often already exist but go underutilized due to lack of awareness. ARCHANGELS is dedicated to working with states, communities, employers, healthcare providers, and payers in providing greater awareness, access, and a data-driven approach that improves caregiver's lives for the better. Join the movement today and learn more about ARCHANGELS at archangels.me.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (bluecrossma.org) is a community-focused, tax-paying, not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Boston. We are committed to the relentless pursuit of quality, equitable and affordable health care with an unparalleled consumer experience. Consistent with our promise to always put our members first, we are rated among the nation's best health plans for member satisfaction and quality. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
About the Mass Caregiving Initiative:
The Mass Caregiving Initiative at the MassTech Collaborative is designed to support caregivers in their communities and workplaces by working with public and private sector partners and collaborating across industry, academia, and government to turn shared challenges into economic opportunity.
The broad goals of the Initiative are to: 1) increase critical supports for family caregivers in Massachusetts; 2) support the Massachusetts economy and ensure a healthy, stable workforce; 3) grow the tech and innovation ecosystem in the Commonwealth; and 4) advise on policy recommendations to better support family caregivers.
Learn more about the Mass Caregiving Initiative and MassTech at https://masstech.org/about-masstech/programs-accelerating-innovation-commonwealth/mass-caregiving-initiative.