When I talk about the impacts of being a young carer, my lived experience sheds light on how complex it is.
When we hosted Ontario’s first ever young carers forum in late November, 2017, we shined a long overdue spotlight on Ontario’s young carers.
We asked the young carers present—a group that is too often overlooked— to share their experiences, journeys, and stories, so that we can all work together to drive meaningful change. For many of them, the forum was the first time they had ever interacted with other young carers, the first time they were asked about their experience, and the first time they felt like the experiences they were sharing could make a difference.
As the caregiver conversation gains momentum in Ontario, it’s important for us to not allow our province’s half a million young carers to be left behind. Too often, this sub-population of family caregivers–which has its own issues and needs related to schooling and age and just being a kid–is forgotten.
It’s a good thing the meeting room at the Change Foundation has big windows, considering the rate at which Geoff Huggins was throwing accepted wisdom out of them during his recent visit. Huggins is director for health and social care integration in Scotland. He described his role as one of strategic and policy responsibility — but added “both of those are really quite outdated concepts.” So that was the first idea of how to bring about change that got tossed.
When The Change Foundation embarked on our engagement with family caregivers and health and community care providers in 2015, our goal was to better understand the caregiver experience — particularly in their interactions with providers.
Back in 2015, when we first waded into the unknown waters of the caregiver experience, we weren’t sure what we were getting into. But what we did know was that The Change Foundation, as an independent and unbiased organization, was uniquely placed to explore this issue with both caregivers themselves and the providers who intersect with them in Ontario’s health and community care system. So, while the path forward wasn’t exactly clear, we were confident it was the right time and opportunity for us to lead this necessary provincial conversation.
There’s broad agreement that integrated healthcare serves patients better, eases the burden on caregivers and improves system accountability and efficiency. There are excellent examples of it in many countries and multiple efforts to create it here in Canada. Yet progress toward it remains frustratingly slow.
Upon my arrival, I was tasked with creating a comprehensive list of the programs and services that exist in Ontario that support young caregivers. This inventory, which we hope will help guide young carers, their families and healthcare providers, is nearly complete, and we hope to have it released in November.
Here are some of the things I learned through the process of building this resource and speaking with leading organizations across Ontario:
I am pleased to announce that Jodeme Goldhar, The Change Foundation’s Executive Lead of Strategy and Innovation, has been named a Senior Associate of the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC).
In July, Carers UK released their annual State of Caring report. As I read through the report, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities in experiences.
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