Embracing Carers

February 27, 2019

Scott Williams, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s Vice President, Head of Global Patient Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships, talks about the Embracing Carers initiative’s objectives and how its success is being measured.

In November, a year since the launch of its Embracing Carers™ movement, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany announced the continued expansion of its initiative, which seeks to increase awareness, discussion, and action about the often-overlooked needs of carers.

Pharm Exec spoke to the co-lead of Embracing Carers, Scott Williams, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s Vice President, Head of Global Patient Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships, about the initiative’s objectives and how its success is being measured.

PharmExec: How did Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany engage and involve the carer community in establishing this initiative?

Scott Williams: Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany launched Embracing Carers in October 2017 to raise awareness of the crucial role of unpaid caregivers. Embracing Carers is advised by nine leading caregiver organizations from around the world to ensure the aims and activities of Embracing Carers truly address the needs of the global caregiver community. Further, in its inaugural year, Embracing Carers conducted an international survey, which questioned more than 3,500 unpaid caregivers across seven countries to help establish a body of knowledge about the overlooked needs of caregivers.

How does the Embracing Carers initiative work?

Embracing Carers™ exists to raise awareness and develop tangible calls to action of carers around the world.  The effort revolves around four key pillars, including:

• Increase Global Awareness: Activate and increase levels of global discussion and digital community coverage highlighting the unmet challenges that caregivers face. (An example of this includes the sharing of carer stories in traditional and digital media here.)

• Broaden Stakeholder Engagement: Support capacity building and increase collaboration with caregiver organizations and broader stakeholders to elevate the needs of caregivers across the world. (Two examples of this are the webinar, support group, and podcast series developed by Can Do MS, and the carer support video series from the American Cancer Society.)

• Activate Policy: Identify and drive visibility among policy makers, government and international public health organizations. (An example of this includes Embracing Carers support of IACO publishing the Global State of Care Report.)

• Engage Healthcare Systems: Help create meaningful opportunities and share best practices across the broader healthcare community to recognize cargiver needs, intervene, and link to meaningful support and solutions. (An example of this includes Embracing Carers collaboration with IACO to publish the Innovative Carer Practice – UK Passport here.)

Which therapy areas does Embracing Carers focus on? 

Embracing Carers doesn’t focus on any one particular therapy area. Caregiving can occur in any therapy area, and while each individual caring experience is unique, there are many shared elements across the caring community. 

How do you measure the success of such initiatives?

We see value from providing increased awareness and support to the carer. We view it as a success every time that a carer self-identifies and seeks resources or support related to their carer role, or every time they understand the value of self-care and the need for respite, or every time the resources that they’ve found through our initiative help them avoid the feelings of isolation and loneliness that far too often contribute to negative health impacts. We also view it as a success every time we can increase or develop a new collaboration that opens a new avenue to support carers. Every carer that we can help in some way – even if small – is part of our measure of success.