caregivers

Announcing four partnerships ready to start Changing CARE

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Click to learn more about Changing CARE.

Today The Change Foundation is excited to announce four community partnerships poised to make positive impacts on the experience and interaction family caregivers have with Ontario’s health care system.

Through Changing CARE, partnerships in London, Huron and Perth counties, Cornwall and Toronto will develop local supports, programs, and/or resources that address four thematic needs identified by caregivers and health providers: communication, assessment, recognition, and education. 

“These four partnerships truly understand the needs of caregivers in Ontario today,” said Change Foundation President and CEO Cathy Fooks, “Each showed an astounding commitment and willingness to co-design new strategies, practices and initiatives with caregivers for the benefit of Ontarians.”

Each partnership was developed with caregivers in key design and decision-making roles, which will continue throughout the partnership. The partnerships are also intently community driven and engage a variety of organizations across health care settings and community services. 

The partnerships moving ahead under Changing CARE bring important focus to different facets of the caregiver experience from a multitude of perspectives including different care settings, demographics, and geographic locations.

Changing CARE will consist of the following partnerships:

Connecting the Dots…Smoothing Transitions for Family Caregivers

Partner Organizations: Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance; One Care Home and Community Support Services; North Perth Family Health Team; STAR Family Health Team; South West Community Care Access Centre; Southwest Local Health Integration Network

Location: Huron County and Perth counties, Ont.

This partnership is focused on addressing the needs of family caregivers through defining and recognizing their role, and co-designing systems of care provision and communication that meet caregiver needs. Read our overview about family caregivers or  click here for more details about our report.

 

Embrace

Partner Organizations: The Cornwall & District Family Support Group; Cornwall Hospital, Community Addiction and Mental Health Services

Location: Cornwall, Ont.

Through several new work streams, this partnership will develop practices with family caregivers to better support, recognize, and embrace their vital role in the recovery of their family and/or friend with addiction and mental health issues. Click here for more.

 

Improving CARE Together

Partner Organization: St. Joseph’s Health Care London 

Location: London, Ont.

St. Joseph’s Health Care London will build on past learning and successes to further strengthen family caregiver partnerships in all its programs and services. This partnership will feature a number of activities and mechanisms designed to make impacts across the organization, including, communication resource toolkits, formal caregiver assessments and new education and support initiatives. Click here for more.

 

Cultivating Change: The Caregiver Friendly Hospital and Community Hub

Partner Organizations: Sinai Health System and WoodGreen Community Services

Location: Toronto, Ont. 

Sinai Health System and WoodGreen Community Services are proudly partnering with family caregivers to fundamentally redesign the caregiver experience using the concept of the Caregiver Friendly Hospital and Community Hub. Click here for more.

 

Changing CARE partnerships will each receive a maximum of $750,000 per year for the next three years from The Change Foundation.

Starting in late January, four regional launch events will take place to celebrate and showcase each Changing CARE project.

For more information, please visit www.changefoundation.ca/changing-care.

 


For media inquiries, please contact:

Communications at info@changefoundation.com

 

For program information, please contact:

Harpreet Bassi, Executive Lead, Program Implementation at hbassi@changefoundation.com

 

Insight and innovation in the UK

Christa Haanstra, Executive Lead, Strategic Communications 

Top insights from the Foundation's UK tourIt was on the train back to London from Hertfordshire when the enormity of just how much leadership, collaboration and focus is needed to make positive changes for caregivers in Ontario registered.

Throughout my work with The Change Foundation, I’ve been lucky to be a part of numerous caregiver engagement activities. In these settings, I’ve heard many caregivers share their experiences in Ontario’s health care system. It should come as no surprise that what made the difference in each story was the level of support and recognition a caregiver received. Sometimes it was as small as simply being asked how they were doing. Other times, it was as significant as peer support groups or formal counselling.

So this past October, as Cathy Fooks and I met with various caregiver organizations in the United Kingdom, it underscored for me just how far we have to go in Ontario to better recognize and empower caregivers.

Luckily for us, organizations we visited in the UK provided shining examples of the innovative and simple things that can be done to better support caregivers.

In the UK, the role of the caregiver has been in the national consciousness since the 1960s, evidenced by the large number of organizations and programs providing care for caregivers today. It was this critical mass of caregiver organizations that gained the attention of the lawmakers, culminating with the introduction of the Carers Act, 2014. This combination of grassroots efforts with formal recognition, such as legislation, has positioned the UK as a leader in supporting caregivers.

This long history is also reflected in the types of comprehensive regional programs that exist. For example, we had the privilege of visiting Carers in Herts, a leading regional organization working to erase the barriers that stand between caregivers and the support they need. Their passion, commitment and entrepreneurial spirit was evident every step of our visit.

Supporting a region of 1.25 million people, Carers in Herts provides carer information, advocacy, education and planning support. Their unique Carers Passport program has leveraged a creative partnership with the local library and local businesses and other services across Hertfordshire to provide rewards such as discounts to area caregivers. Seen as a kind of Certificate of Appreciation, the passports are a catalyst that connects Carers in Herts with caregivers to get them the support they need.

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Christa Haanstra (left) and Cathy Fooks (right) with John’s Campaign Founder Nicci Gerrard (centre).

Another outstanding program administered by Carers in Herts was their Make a Difference for Carers grant—a one-time sum of up to £500 for an individual caregiver’s positive health and wellness. The grant is designed to go towards an investment that best serves the caregiver’s unique needs as determined by an assessment with the caregiver. From a trip away for respite time, to an investment in a computer to facilitate new connections with other caregivers online, this small investment can have a huge impact on an individual’s life.

While Carers in Herts provided rich insight regionally, we were also impressed by Carers UK’s caregiver advocacy work nationally—in particular the Employers for Carers program. Through this program, Carers UK helps develop a work setting whereby any caregiver can self-identity to their employer and discuss what accommodations they may require, from flexible hours to additional time away. Although each caregiver-friendly workplace is unique, Carers UK typically follows a disability-friendly or mental health-friendly workplaces model.

Though many leaders I met were shocked at how little is being done in Ontario for caregivers, they also were quick to point to the issues facing caregivers in the UK. Many were all too familiar: perceived vs. real barriers to privacy; difficulty engaging health providers, the lack of caregiver self-identification; and the inconsistency in program implementation across regions. Despite the achievements in legislation and recognition, supporting the needs of caregivers is always a work in progress.

On the flight home, I took a moment to reflect on what we had seen. Though organizations like Carers in Herts emphasized just how far we have to go to in Ontario, the trip also renewed the Foundation’s drive to work with Ontario’s caregivers and providers.

The UK has provided the vision we see for Ontario. Now let’s make it happen.

 

 

Stories Shared, Voices Heard: Ontario’s Healthcare Providers

When we launched our strategic plan Out of the Shadows and Into the Circle, bringing a new focus to the role of family caregivers in the health care system, we wanted to listen and learn from family caregivers as well as frontline health care providers. To do that effectively, we created The Caring Experience project. The Caring Experience was instrumental in allowing The Change Foundation to better understand the experiences and interactions, as well as the common ground, between family caregivers and those working in Ontario’s health and community care sectors.

The Foundation met with over 200 frontline health providers across Ontario during The Caring Experience through 25 different focus groups meetings across health care sectors. In addition, the Foundation also had over 200 reponses to an online survey to health providers.

Stories Shared, Voices Heard: Ontario’s Healthcare Providers is an in-depth report that captures what providers shared during The Caring Experience about their experiences and interactions with family caregivers and what they see as the major issues affecting this relationship. Most importantly, the report features key quotes directly from health providers on what they see as specific challenges in the health and community care systems and their thoughts on what an ideal health care future looks like for caregivers and providers. Appendices within the report provide an overview of the main engagement methods as well.

The Change Foundation believes this report provides important context on the specific concerns and challenges providers face while trying to work with and support Ontario’s family caregivers. It also builds on the four major themes outlined in the Foundation’s Out of the Shadows and Into the Circle: From Listening and Learning to Action report.

Report and Related Resources

For more information, please contact:

Communications at info@changefoundation.com

Changing CARE—Our time for action

CFooks 2We listened. We heard. Now it’s time for action.

That’s been our mantra for just over a month now with the launch of our new funding initiative, Changing CARE. We’ve done the legwork, and we’re ready to take action in Ontario’s health and community care sectors.

This past week was our deadline for Expression of Interest submissions for those organizations interested in being part of Changing CARE. We had over 400 people tune in to one of four webinars and have now received over 70 Expression of Interest (EOI) submissions as a result—now it’s on to the review process.  We heard from all parts of the system – family health teams, hospitals, LHINs and CCACs, and home and community care service agencies.

Similar to the PATH project before it, Changing CARE will bring family caregivers and providers together to spearhead innovative solutions that aim to improve family caregiver experiences in Ontario’s health and community care sector.

It’s on this note that our Top of Mind commentary piece makes a concerted call for better coordination of the various efforts being pioneered across Ontario aimed at family caregivers. At the Foundation, we’ve put a lot of work into better understanding the caregiver experience from the perspectives of caregivers themselves but also from front line staff and health care professionals.

Innovation, however, also needs to exist in policy and legislation, both in health care and in other environments. So, what action is being taken to support family caregivers on a policy front more broadly? To answer this question, we had Cayla Baarda, a Research Associate in the City of Toronto’s Urban Fellows Program and the Foundation’s summer Research Assistant, highlight three key legislative developments aimed at family caregivers.

Lastly, we also had the immense pleasure of providing eight young carers from the Niagara Region the opportunity to share their own caregiving stories in video format through a digital storytelling workshop. In the end, six decided to share their videos more widely and one of these young carers, 17-year-old Olivia Wyatt, is the focus of our latest caregiver feature written by Program Associate Catherine Monk-Saigal.

Stories like Olivia’s need to continue to be at the centre of any change in Ontario, especially as the health care system enters a period of flux. It’s also important to keep ourselves open to the new opportunities that might arise during this period and be willing to take actions that can lead to positive change.

As we launch Changing CARE, our plan is to do just that.

Six young carers share their stories

Picture this: A filmmaking workshop with a group of youth from 10 – 18 years old. Each one was there to make a video about them, and they played the role of writer, editor, videographer, photographer, and everything in between.

You can imagine the instant silliness and fun that explodes when they are given cameras, their own MacBook Pros and access to a temporary recording studio. But this wasn’t a typical group of 10 – 18 year olds. It didn’t take more than a couple of hours to realize this group was wise beyond their years. 

young carers share their stories
It is estimated that 17% of Ontario caregivers are between the ages of 15 and 24.
young carers share their stories
Young carers at a Powerhouse Project activity night in St. Catharines, Ont.

This was a group that helped young carers share their stories. If you are like most people, you’re likely not sure what that means. We were the same—until we started our journey looking at the issues and challenges faced by Ontario’s family caregivers.

Young carers generally refers to young children (sometime just four or five), youth or young adults who support or have other responsibilities helping a family member who has a health issue—like chronic disease, disability, mental health and/or addiction.

Once we learned more about young carers, it wasn’t long before we heard about The Powerhouse Project—a group supporting young carers in the Niagara region and Haldimand and Norfolk counties.

The Powerhouse Project exists to support children and youth, who find themselves in a caregiving role at a young age. The project offers a variety of free services and activities to empower Young

Carers and their families as they navigate the complications of illness and all that entails. Through weekly programming that includes arts and crafts activities, team-building, camps, education workshop, and more, The Powerhouse Project aims to foster resilience, reduce isolation and caregiver fatigue and alleviate stress and anxiety.

As part of our work with caregivers, The Change Foundation is committed to bringing attention to this little-known situation. One of our initiatives included hosting this filmmaking workshop that enabled this group of youth to tell their own stories using video.young carers share their stories

 

As part of our work with caregivers, The Change Foundation is committed to bringing attention to this little-known situation. One of our initiatives included hosting this filmmaking workshop that enabled this group of youth to tell their own stories using video.

The stories are hard to comprehend. They are often heartbreaking, but they are real. It’s an issue we can’t ignore. Young carers are often invisible, but they are in need of support and respect, especially in health care settings.

Each of them embraced the opportunity, even though there were times when it was hard to face the realities and emotions of their lives. In the end, each of them was proud to share their video with the group and their families. It is our honour to share them with you.

To watch the finished videos and to hear young carers share their stories, click here: www.changefoundation.com/ontario-young-carers.

 

 

WHAT’S BEING SAID

In the Caregiver as Partnership #eLearning course you will learn how to engage, support and empower caregivers to improve patient health outcomes and the experience of the entire care team. bit.ly/2U1Mlcs pic.twitter.com/ymsoYpBBDD