changing care

Changing CARE update: Summer 2017

Christa Haanstra, Executive Lead, Strategic Communications 

Following the launch of the Changing CARE projects in early 2017, followed by a two-day intensive training on co-design by the UK’s Point of Care Foundation in late March, the teams have been working away, in partnership with caregivers, to build the foundation for change.

All four projects have convened a Steering Committee and have established a structure for governing the project and operationalizing the project work. The Change Foundation is actively participating on each of the Steering Committees, to bring our knowledge, insights and expertise, gained through our caregiver and provider engagement work, and our previous patient engagement work through PATH and PANORAMA.

From full-day planning retreats, to contributing to discovery work, to participation on committees, to being on hiring committees, to hiring caregivers in paid project roles, the caregiver voice is being given a stage through our Changing CARE partnerships across Ontario.

The Change Foundation and our Changing CARE projects are guided by our Compensation framework, outlined in our 2015 report Should Money Come Into It?, in helping to decide whether to pay patient and caregiver engagement participants.

A natural consequence of working in an emerging area is collaboration. We’re already seeing the collaboration happening between the four teams, despite their geographic spread, and their unique clinical priorities. From sharing resources, to creating opportunities to learn from each other, to building on each other’s’ ideas, the partnerships are growing strong.

A great example of this is the creation of three Coordinating Groups looking at three common issues across the Changing CARE projects—a formal caregiver ID and recognition program; a caregiver assessment process; and, a common evaluation and outcome measurement strategy. Each of these groups is chaired by an Executive Lead from The Change Foundation, and has caregiver participants, along with representation from each of the Changing CARE partnerships. They’ve each had their initial meetings, and will be working through the summer and into the fall. The goal is to lead a shared development approach that can be implemented at each of the four project sites, with the intent to share the model so that it can be spread across the province in the longer term. Stay tuned for their progress!

Even at this early stage, we can clearly say that the Changing CARE partnerships are poised to be leaders in caregiver recognition, support and integration in the Ontario health care system. Together, they will change the way health care organizations, providers, and caregivers work together.

Changing CARE update

Solving the integration puzzle

In our 2011 report, Winning Conditions to Improve Health Care, we predicted that it was “likely that some reorganization of LHINs and CCACs <would> occur.” From our perspective, we believed that reorganization would be “a huge opportunity to better align decisions and resources with priorities and purpose.”

This opportunity is now here. As of June 21, 2017, the CCACs have merged with the LHINs across Ontario. Although we all agree that change was and is needed to integrate care and improve patient and caregiver outcomes and experiences, we also know that structural changes alone won’t do the job. Ontario needs a fundamental shift to embrace patients and caregivers as partners in healthcare.  Merging organizations is just a small piece of the puzzle.

Around the time that the LHINs were created in 2006, The Change Foundation looked at how integration was being done around the world. That research helped us identify key elements that are critical for integrated care. We have highlighted those elements in our work over the past few years. They are:

  • Include and value patient and caregiver perspectives
  • Provide seamless care
  • Pay attention to relationships, not just governance structures
  • Funding should follow the patient
  • Performance management should be linked to patient outcomes
  • Information management needs to be integrated and accessible

In our view, many of these foundational elements still need development in Ontario. The goal of an integrated system of care, which will lead to improved outcomes and better patient and caregiver experiences, doesn’t come about without a wholistic approach to change.

Take the Partners Advancing Transitions in Healthcare (PATH) project in Northumberland, as an example. PATH was a partnership between patients, caregivers and 12 cross-sector health care organizations in Cobourg. By co-designing the approach to care, based on patient and caregiver experience and input, they designed changes to improve people’s experience moving within and across health care organizations in each patient’s healthcare journey. There was a notable cultural shift in Northumberland—within health care organizations and the community—that is still evident today.

More recently, as part of our Changing CARE initiative, the Change Foundation is collaborating with four partnerships in Ontario that will change the way care organizations, providers, caregivers and patients work together. This shift will be achieved by developing programs and resources that address four areas of caregiver needs—Communications, Assessment, Recognition and Education—identified through extensive engagement and partnership with caregivers and providers. Most importantly, each of the Changing CARE partnerships demonstrated a true commitment to co-design with caregivers, and a passion and dedication to make meaningful change. They ‘get’ it. Yes, a structural change will be part of their implementation, but it won’t be the driver of the needed cultural shift.

When we look across the system, we are encouraged by the more prominent role that caregivers are playing in Ontario’s health care landscape today compared to 2006. As we said in Winning Conditions, “To accomplish [an integrated health system], we need to seek and be guided by the lived and expressed experience of the people now navigating the health care system.”

Although there is work to do to get more of the fundamental pieces in place to support caregivers within the system, we have begun tapping into their expertise. As the positive momentum continues, we are hopeful that the recognition and awareness of the role of caregivers will continue to grow among Ontario health care organizations and providers. It is only when patients and caregivers are true partners that we’ll be able to achieve true integration.

Bringing the Canadian caregiver perspective to 54 Countries

The Change Foundation participates in the International Conference for Integrated Care

Jodeme Goldhar, Executive Lead of Strategy and Innovation & Lori Hale, Executive Lead of Research and Policy

Many jurisdictions across the world are facing similar challenges when it comes to partnering with patients and their caregivers to build integrated health care systems, which in turn support better patient and caregiver experiences. And each of these jurisdictions is tailoring its own solutions to its own unique system and population.

When international partnerships and information pipelines are created, such as they were at the International Conference for Integrated Care (ICIC) in Ireland in May, 2017, then what’s happening on one side of the world can be put into practice on the other. That’s how change is made.

ICIC was hosted by the International Foundation for Integrated Care and the Republic of Ireland’s Health Services Executive. Together, 1,200 delegates from 54 countries got together to discuss Building a platform for integrated care: Delivering change that matters to people.

Through our work first with the PATH project, and now Changing CARE, The Change Foundation has worked, and is working, with multiple sectors and organizations to improve integration in Ontario. We were honoured to present on what we’ve learned in our work so far, as we pursue our new strategic goal of improving the experience of family caregivers as they help a family member transition through and interact with Ontario’s health and community care systems.

Our past work, which focused on improving the experiences for patients and family caregivers as they move about Ontario’s health care system, led us to the vital yet often unrecognized role of informal or family caregivers in the system. As an independent health policy think-tank that works to inform positive change in Ontario’s health care system, we’ve been able to identify what some of the most pressing needs are, and we were happy to travel to Dublin with these ideas, and an open mind, in tow.

We presented together at the Making Patient and Carer Engagement Happen workshop, where we focused on the importance of co-design in developing integrated systems of care, the value and impact of patient and caregiver involvement, and the Changing CARE projects.

As a conference with a Patient Included Charter Status, by definition, patients and caregivers were actively involved in the design and planning of the conference, as well as participating as attendees and speakers.

For example, Liz Maddox, a caregiver, shared her experience, and described how she and her husband started a support group in their rural community. They had eight people attend their first meeting, and they now have nearly 80. She spoke about the importance of peer support, and commented that she was “empowered by what I hear today.” In particular, she was inspired by the work of The Change Foundation, and felt that our approach reflects what’s important to her. For us, this confirms that our work is focused on what’s important to caregivers.

Jodeme was also honoured to chair a workshop on Strengthening Family Caregivers on behalf of the Foundation, and play a role in advancing this agenda on the international stage. Being asked to facilitate this type of global discussion is a clear indication of the international recognition of the role and profile of the Foundation.

A highlight was the Care Alliance Ireland presentation on their partnership with the Health Services Executive, Family Carers Ireland and the InterRAI team to improve the carer assessment in the InterRAI assessment tool. Eight countries are involved and 50 caregivers from each country are providing input on the design of the draft questionnaire. The goal is to roll out the carer assessment of this tool internationally. 

We were proud to have the opportunity to serve as a model for others overseas. Just as importantly, we embraced the opportunity to learn from others and bring some ideas home with us, to keep The Change Foundation at the forefront of integration issues in Ontario. It’s by joining this type of community that we’re able to keep learning and growing, and keep improving the caregiver experience. We look forward to future collaborations with IFIC and its colleagues around the world.

Changing CARE is an initiative in which The Change Foundation partners with health care organizations and family caregivers to improve experiences and strengthen Ontario’s health and community care systems.

The International Foundation for Integrated Care is a not-for-profit educational membership-based network that crosses organizational and professional boundaries to bring people together to advance the science, knowledge and adoption of integrated care policy and practice.

A bird’s eye view on young carers services in the U.K.

Catherine Monk-Saigal, Program and Communications Associate

Early on in The Change Foundation’s year of listening and learning from family caregivers (2015-2016), young carers emerged as an often-overlooked group of caregivers. A focus on meeting the needs for young carers services in a variety of settings will be integrated in our work with our four Changing CARE partnerships.

We often use the U.K. as a measuring stick of how far our province has to go in terms of support, recognition, assessment, and identification for caregivers. In February 2017, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to the U.K. to explore young carer services, and learn firsthand about the incredible strides the U.K. has taken to recognize and support its young carers.

Throughout my time with several different young carer organizations, the sheer abundance of community supports was overwhelming, from programs within schools to group community programs to online communities. A majority of these support organizations are funded and nestled within local authorities and social care programs.  At times, it seemed as if there was an overlap of some support services. Quite an exceptional problem to have.

What was the driving force behind this?

Interestingly, all the agencies agreed that the Carers Act of 2014, coupled with the changes to the Children and Families Act have made a notable difference in their ability to provide services. For many, it opened the doors into schools, and health and community care organizations, including general practitioners. The legislation has helped increase awareness of young carers, but most importantly, it puts the onus on the health, community and education system to identify young carers and facilitate access to an assessment. It’s their legislated right.

Although the organizations we met with provide assessment and either refer or host supports for young carers, many also had a focus on enabling schools to create and independently run their own support and identification programs for young carers. In fact, several of the young carer organizations had created a criteria or scheme system for school programs, awarding schools based on the level of recognition and supports offered. Schools even took it upon themselves to identify a professional (teachers, counselors, principals, head teachers, etc) to act as young carer champions in their setting. 

One step further

Transition planning is a buzz word heard often as patients and caregivers try to navigate Ontario’s health and community care system. However, young carer agencies in the U.K. take this one step further. They realize that the role of young carers shifts when they move into young adulthood, so they are creating distinct young adult carer services within their agencies. Furthermore, there are a number of young adult carer services sprouting up in the U.K., to meet the unique needs of this population at a transitional time in life.

Although The Change Foundation is primarily focused on caregiver interactions with Ontario’s health care system, my time in the U.K. was a clear reminder that the role of a young carer surpasses the health care system. In the U.K., schools are a vital partner to local young carer programs. It was abundantly clear that without the national awareness of the role and the legislative push to ensure that the needs of young carers are met, the programs, services, and supports at a local and national level would not be as robust as they are today. 

As we move forward with our Changing CARE projects, we will continue to look internationally, in the U.K. and beyond, for inspiration. Look for lessons and takeaways from our own Jodeme Goldhar, Executive Lead of Strategy and Innovation, from her international meetings in our next newsletter. 

Creating new linkages between the caregiver, the community and health care is essential

Genevieve Obarski, Executive Lead, Program Implementation 

In January, February and March, The Change Foundation team had the privilege of traveling across Ontario to launch the Foundation’s four Changing CARE partnerships. Each launch event was an excellent showcase for each partnership, bringing together the family caregivers, patients, providers, and other community stakeholders that will be part of this initiative. At every stop we’re asked “Why here? Why this project?”


In some ways this is an easy question. All four partnerships had common key characteristics:

  • The organization’s Executive leaders championed the idea and placed it in their organizations strategic plan.
  • Family caregiver experience was a current major organizational priority.
  • There was a strong focus on provider engagement, education and behaviour change related to caregiver experience.
  • The organization was prepared for co-design work with caregivers as demonstrated by existing patient/family engagement activities.
  • Proposal scope, target population, and provider engagement strategy supported the potential for spread and culture change in the organization and the community.
  • Each lead organization had partnerships that would improve the caregiver experience inside and outside their facility’s walls.

It’s this last point that has become increasingly important to the Changing CARE initiative. Caregiving is not a role that only exists within the confines of a hospital or doctor’s office. Providing support and care, of any kind, requires caregivers to piece together services and resources from organizations that exist across the continuum of care and deep into the community. To connect with caregivers on a meaningful level, it is imperative that we understand and link together the networks they are likely to use.

Each Changing CARE partnership has already reached out to a broader community network in one way or another.

  • The Embrace partnership will see the Cornwall Community Hospital and the Cornwall and District Family Support Group reach caregivers of individuals with mental health problems.
  • In Toronto, Sinai Health System and WoodGreen Community Services will work closely together to create a hub for caregivers looking for support and leverage WoodGreen’s extensive community networks to ensure caregivers are identified.
  • St. Joseph’s Health Care London will lead a team of community partners that include Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex, the Canadian Frailty Network, and the South West Local Health Integration Network, among others.
  • Lastly, the Connecting the Dots partnership is being led by the local hospital network and family health teams to directly connect and engage with caregivers across Huron and Perth counties.

However, this kind of local, grassroots work is not always an easy task. The silos that can exist between health care and community care services can be a barrier to collaboration. But identifying common bonds and groups of stakeholders can be one solution. For the four Changing CARE partnerships, linking already existing networks of services was a key realization of a stronger together mentality on a local level.   

This work is merely beginning. The next step for our Changing CARE partnerships will be to leverage these combined networks to reach local family caregivers and invite them to collaborate and co-design supports/resources that work for them.

The potential for these projects, however, is exponential.

Finding new solutions to address caregiver issues, we need a diverse group of people and organizations with a holistic, community-based vision. Through Changing CARE, we’ll encourage and foster these new linkages for the benefit of all Ontarians.

Click here to view our Changing CARE videos

Moving beyond caregiver recognition

In April, the spotlight was shining on family caregivers more than ever before. April 4 was Family Caregiver Day and a number of appreciation events were held to recognize the vital role families play in caring for a family member, friend or neighbour. In fact, for the first time ever, this day was recognized at the national, provincial and municipal level. Later in the month, the Ontario government announced new supports for family caregivers through increased funding for respite services, more education and training programs for family caregivers, a new Ontario tax credit, as well as the creation of a new organization to coordinate supports and resources for caregivers.

These initiatives are definitely welcome. They represent a step forward in recognizing this vital role, giving caregivers a bit more time away from their caregiver responsibilities, and providing needed and necessary information and training. 

But, is it enough? We don’t think so. Our direct engagement with family caregivers, and health care providers and staff tell us a more fundamental shift in thinking is required. Caregivers spend a lot of their caregiving time interacting with the health care system on behalf of their family member. Whether it’s chasing down information, coordinating appointments, or trying to convey vital information about the patient or the patient’s wishes, it can be time-consuming, frustrating and stressful. More access to respite or offering of education to caregivers, while important, does not change the fact that the system itself does not, by and large, value or acknowledge the caregiver role. Policies and practices in health care organizations often actually preclude caregiver involvement in patient care planning. To add insult to injury, busy staff often make assumptions about a family’s capacity to provide support without having a discussion with the caregiver to assess their willingness, ability and availability. And the evidence shows, when caregivers are not valued and supported, they burn out, become isolated, or they themselves become ill.

We are setting out to see if things can be done differently–we believe they can. Our Changing CARE work intends to do just that–change care and the caring experience for the caregiver. Since late January, we’ve announced four Changing CARE projects:

Connecting the Dots…Smoothing Transitions for Family Caregivers (Huron and Perth counties)

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

 Embrace (Cornwall)

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

 Improving CARE Together (London)

Partner Organization: St. Joseph’s Health Care London 

Cultivating Change: The Caregiver Friendly Hospital and Community (Toronto)

Partner Organizations: Sinai Health System and WoodGreen Community Services

Through these projects, we are working directly with eleven partner organizations, but the reach is much broader when we look at all the collaborative work planned as part of each project. You can read more about the projects, and what they hope to achieve in the coming years, in Genevieve Obarski’s article Creating New Linkages

April was also a busy month at The Change Foundation, as we welcomed Jodeme Goldhar, Executive Lead, Strategy and Innovation to our small but mighty team. In this role Jodeme will focus on expanding the Foundation’s international and national profile, as well as linking strategy to the execution of the Foundation’s projects. Stay tuned for her reflections on her trip abroad meeting with international colleagues, in our next issue of Top of Mind. 

As always, I’m excited to continue to share the Foundation’s activities with you and I sincerely hope you’ll continue to engage with us on this important shift in the health care system. A shift to recognizing family caregivers, and supporting them in the important role they play as key partners in our health care system.

“You are not alone” – Advice From One Caregiver to Others

Photo of caregiver James Joyce with his son Brendan
From left to right, Terry Sweitzer, Brendan Joyce, James Joyce.

Rebecca Goss, Communications Assistant

Thirteen years ago, when James’s son was in his second year of university, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This thrust James and his wife, Terry Sweitzer, into the roles of family caregivers, joining 3.3 million others in Ontario.

The role of family caregiver – that is, caring for a friend, family member or neighbour – can be stressful. Nearly half of Ontario caregivers report having somewhat high to high levels of stress, with nearly 10 per cent reporting high stress. This stress stems from balancing caregiving with employment or other responsibilities, the declining health of their loved one, managing their own mental health and emotions and more. Others may also be taking care of children at home, while balancing caregiving needs for others in their family.

Over one third of caregivers report that they are tired, anxious, or both. As these feelings build up over time, caregivers can become physically or mentally exhausted to the point of distress, anger, anxiety or depression—known as caregiver burnout.

Since becoming a caregiver, James has become an advocate for caregiver support with the Cornwall & District Family Support Group. Once per month, he runs a support group to bring caregivers together, discuss their experiences, learn from each other and find help if they need it. It’s his way of helping others in the hopes of preventing or delaying burn out.

“The thing I always tell people is if you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of a loved one,” James says.

Self-care can include things like taking a long, leisurely bath or walk, enjoying a hobby, or maintaining friendships, James says, since these often get lost when someone starts caregiving.

Education is also the key to mitigating stress and avoiding burnout, adds James. He helps run a free 12-week course annually with the Cornwall & District Family Support Group to educate family caregivers on mental health. It’s education sessions like this, and a culture that recognizes family caregivers, that led The Change Foundation to support Embrace, a Changing CARE partnership in Cornwall.  

“The more you know about what you’re dealing with, the better you’ll be able to cope,” James says. He adds that it’s best to go to an association that works with the illness you’re trying to cope with, since the internet may not always have accurate information. Many disease-specific charitable organizations have free resources online for caregivers to view and learn from.

If nothing else, James wants to remind caregivers that “despite how you feel, you are not alone. There are groups across the province. There are people willing to talk, listen and help you.”

For those looking for caregiver support groups or education opportunities, there are a number of websites to help get a search started including The Caregiver Exchange and the Foundation’s own efforts to support family caregivers through research and our Caregiver Resource Hub.  

 

 

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

 

Across the pond: New reflections from the UK

CFooks 2The start of the winter season always brings tidings of joy, peace, and for some, relaxation. For many family caregivers, however, this can be start of an even more stressful period.

From providing emotional support to performing medical tasks, we know caregivers take on a host of roles and responsibilities, many of who also hold down paid employment. Add in the scheduling it takes to get together with family and the necessary adaptation to reduced hours from home care and other support networks, many caregivers may feel more stressed or isolated.

The situation can be even more difficult for young carers. Since schools close and various recreation programs take breaks for the December holidays, many young people may find themselves without their own support networks of friends, teachers, or other mentors.

It’s during this time of the year that the need for dedicated informal and formal caregiver support networks seems the most striking to me. Though pockets of promise exist throughout Ontario, we don’t yet have a consistent way to support and recognize caregivers across the province.

Some answers may lie across the pond. In October, I travelled to the United Kingdom, arguably one of the leading countries in terms of recognizing caregiver rights and developing supports. During my visit, I was astonished to see the simple and fairly easy types of caregiver support initiatives that were created on local, regional, and national levels—for example, Carers Passports.

Cathy Fooks speaking at CarersUK
Cathy Fooks speaking at CarersUK

Depending on the community or region where they’ve been developed, Carers Passports range from discount cards to passes for open visiting hours. Passports recognize who caregivers are in the health care system while at the same time connecting caregivers to a number of identifiable community supports. For organizations like Carers in Herts, carers passports leverage existing community institutions and businesses. To make initial contact and lessen the stigma that comes with seeking help, Carers in Herts uses local libraries as initial outreach posts and asks for caregivers to validate their passports by calling the organization. Once validated, the caregiver can use the passport as a discount card at local businesses, but have also had their information recorded by Carers in Herts for any further follow ups.

For this issue of Top of Mind, we share more our key findings from this recent visit. Most notably, we take a look the work organizations such as Carers UK and Carers in Herts have done to develop key caregiver support networks in our commentary article, written by Christa Haanstra, Executive Lead, Strategic Communications.  We also take time to feature John’s Campaign, a grassroots social media movement in the UK with one simple and successful aim: giving caregivers the right to stay in hospital with persons with dementia.

Our second feature gives an update on our long-term care residents’ councils and family councils project. As many of you may know, we released the project’s phase one report, Enhancing Care, Enhancing Life, in October which shared some key findings from a series of surveys to long-term care residents, families, and staff. In this feature, Research Assistant Stephanie Hylmar provdes her reflections on what these finding mean for Ontario’s long-term care sector.

Lastly, as this is our last Top of Mind for 2016, I want to wish you all a safe and happy holiday with your friends and family.

Big things are in store for 2017, including the announcement of our Changing CARE projects. I hope you’ll continue with us as we work to improve family caregiver experiences in Ontario’s health and community care sectors.

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.

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