Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies (Regence*) are finding ways to connect patients, caregivers and healthcare providers through the coronavirus pandemic.
"I've always counted on Saeed," said Regence member Mojgan, Saeed's wife. "I never thought that I would be the one that everyone would be counting on."
Overnight, Mojgan became her husband’s caregiver when he lost his ability to move and speak—the result of a rare neuromuscular disorder—and suddenly found herself facing the emotional and physical challenges that come with caring for a loved one.
"I am currently the only income-bringer of the household," she said. "I leave home about 7 o'clock in the morning and come home about 7 o'clock at night. And then I usually have to stay up with him or help him in the middle of the night as well. And the next day, the same."
Mojgan's story is a reflection of the daily challenges family caregivers face across the country, heightened in a year that has brought additional health concerns, economic pressure, social unrest and much more.
These family caregivers are an often unpaid and invisible workforce, whose roles are being significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), The Health of America Report® on the impact of caregiving reports that 1 in 4 family caregivers are feeling more stress while trying to balance caregiving, work and family in the wake of COVID-19. In addition to their time, caregivers may provide significant labor and emotional support—all of which have been amplified this year.
Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have long understood the importance of supporting caregivers. To that end, they have made several critical investments in technology to help bridge the gap between patients, caregivers and providers throughout the pandemic, while minimizing the negative effects of social isolation:
- Bringing music therapy to children and families - Caring for a child with cancer can be one of the most heartbreaking experiences a parent goes through. To help uplift children in treatment or recovery, as well as their caregivers, Regence supports the Children's Cancer Association's MyMusicRx® program. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program offers one-on-one virtual lessons and weekly Facebook Live streams for children, their families and healthcare workers dealing with loneliness, isolation, stress, anxiety and more.
- Making isolation social - Regence also supports the Idaho Commission on Aging and Community Action Partnership in connecting caregivers to their loved ones and keeping them safe. Together, these organizations donated tablets to those in assisted-living facilities, so that they may see and talk to their loved ones virtually, while maintaining safe distancing practices. They are also helping caregivers access virtual healthcare services to reduce their exposure to COVID-19—thereby reducing risk for themselves and those for whom they care.
- Connecting the care team - In Oregon and Washington, Regence is committed to ensuring all people have access to high-quality hospice and palliative care. In partnership with the Oregon and Washington Hospice and Palliative Care Associations, Regence provided tools and technology to small non-profit hospices. These donations will help bridge the gap between patients, providers and family caregivers who may be high-risk and practicing social distancing.
- At-home support for children's care - Oregon Health & Science University's Novel Interventions in Children's Healthcare (NICH) program treats children with complex or chronic health conditions. With Regence's support, the program provided iPads to patients' families. These devices allow parents to meet virtually with their children's providers and case managers without the risk of contracting COVID-19. Children receiving in-hospital care were also provided iPads to connect with siblings, grandparents and friends during visitor restrictions during the pandemic. "Now I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to stay in contact with my child’s doctor," said one mother whose child is the in the NICH program. "I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you for this awesome gift."
Watch how Regence was able to provide Mojgan and Saeed the care and support they needed.
Learn how Regence is prioritizing caregiver health and well-being amidst the pandemic.
Discover more ways Regence is investing in technology to support communities in need.
*Regence BlueCross BlueShield, Regence Blue Shield and Regence BlueShield of Idaho are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. We refer to them collectively as Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies in this article.