The collaboration enlisted Can Do MS, which delivers health and wellness education programs to families living with MS, to design online caregiver support groups and educational programs that include podcast and webinar series.
It’s also meant to buttress Partners in MS Care, healthcare providers who have demonstrated know-how in treating MS. Through their relationship with the National MS Society, they connect patients to vital information and relevant resources.
“Across the world, many caregivers are supporting partners, family members or other loved ones living with MS, and they often do not know where to turn for help or resources,” Terrie Livingston, head of patient outcomes and solutions at EMD Serono, said in a press release.
The biopharmaceutical arm of Merck KGaA, EMD Serono leads Embracing Carers, a global initiative aimed at supporting caregivers.
“By partnering with Can Do MS, one of the leaders in providing resources for MS patients and those who care for them, we hope that we can help these caregivers support their loved ones and have fulfilling relationships while ensuring they also care for themselves,” Livingston said.
Calling caregivers the often-overlooked lynchpin of healthcare systems worldwide, Livingston also said that collaborations such as this one drive visibility and create new opportunities for healthcare system integration.
“MS Caregivers play a fundamental role in caring for MS patients, and it’s important that we include them in our conversations about how to help those living with this disease,” said Anne Gilbert, director of programs at Can Do MS.
“We have developed an extensive library of materials and information for MS patients, and this new collaboration will produce valuable materials targeted specifically toward the caregiver community,” Gilbert said.
The educational program includes four hour-long online support group sessions, which are facilitated by psychologist Roz Kalb, PhD. The sessions, which began in September, provide a platform for shared experiences and education.
A three-part webinar series also is part of the program and offers interactive education about understanding and managing disease-related mood and cognitive changes in patients, prioritizing emotional and physical self-care, and building satisfying partnerships. Although the final seminar was held Oct. 30, all three may be viewed here, along with information on the webinar, podcasts and support group sessions.
Each webinar includes a podcast led by MS experts and featuring stories from support partners whose loved ones live with MS.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, more than 2.3 million people in the world have MS.