Tuesday 4 April 2023

Happy National Caregivers Day in Canada - Reasons for Hope

Today is National Caregiver Day in Canada. I feel spring in the air and I'd like to share some trends that I feel hopeful about - hopeful for the future of caregiving here in Canada and across North America. 

The first reason I'm hopeful is that The Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence is on a path towards successfully advocating for a national caregiver strategy which will ease the burden of care for us all. Disease associations and health care workers will join hands with disability organizations to form one massive coalition for caregiver support. We're all in this together and this is the first time any group has had the money, the power and the will to bring the country together for the good of caregivers. If you would like to participate in this movement for change, join the group's Canadian Advisory Network and share your experience. 

I am hopeful because there is so much research going on in Canada that is rooted in partnerships with family caregivers. This matters because this new model of partnership with families transforms both what is researched and how it is researched. And research informs the way health care is delivered. Caregivers like me suggest problems we'd like investigated, like my son's seizures during sleep or my Mom's model of small group assisted living arrangements. I tell researchers what really matters to our family at every stage of the project. Then I tell the family community about what the research found - in plain language. This is radical and it's new. 

If you are a parent of a child (any age) with disabilities, you might want to read about the Family Engagement in Research Program at McMaster University. If you want to have a role in creating a new caregiver support education program for health care professionals, then check out the University of Alberta's Caregiver-Centred Care Program (and tell your health care providers about it!). 

I am hopeful because there's a growing conversation in Canada about how local neighbourhoods can organize to support our caring families. The Asset-Based Community Development movement or ABCD is an concept of neighbour helping neighbour in an organized and supported way, based on people's interests, talents and availability. It's a clarion call to the spirit of community in which we know and care for one another. Cormac Russell is the Executive Director of Nurture Development (ABCD in Europe) and here, he explains the idea of neighbourhood as a unit of health and change. 

If this ideas intrigues you and offer you hope the way it does for me, then read Cormac's new book, The Connected Community.  In the book, Cormac and ABCD co-founder John McKnight offer a wealth of illustrative examples from around the world that will inspire you to explore your own community and discover its hidden treasures.

What else gives me hope? Cori Carl's writing - I'm a subscriber to her blog for The Caregiver Space. I experience a tiny thrill when I see a new edition appear in my inbox. Cori writes about people caring for each other from quirky angles, offering new perspectives on my own life with every new idea. 

I am inspired by signs of spring. There is still snow on the ground where I live, but we are making maple syrup with our neighbours. I will bring some over to Nick and we'll have pancakes together, savouring the divine golden syrup. Like all things made at home with love, it is so much better than store-bought! 

Finally, what gives me hope every day is my family. We love and celebrate each other. I'm so proud of our children. I don't know what the future holds for our society or our planet, but on National Caregivers Day 2023, I choose hope, love and family. 

No comments: