A 2018 Stats Canada survey on care giving and care receiving revealed 1 in 4 Canadians are unpaid family caregivers. In addition, there are still many people who are unaware they are caregivers and are therefore not accessing the supports they need to prevent themselves from burning out. We have a two-part idea: First, to raise awareness about what makes someone a caregiver; and second, to provide caregivers with a program for when they need support. We intend create a marketing and social media campaign targeted at people care giving for seniors to raise awareness on what is care giving. By doing this our hope is that we will be able to reach more caregivers to provide them with the resources they may need before it becomes an urgent situation.
There is a lack of low-cost programs that provide support for caregivers and care receivers in Calgary. This is especially true for caregivers of seniors. AHS Homecare provides a few hours of respite per week and Calgary Seniors offers a Caring Companion Program for Caregivers. Our program mobilizes volunteers to provide companionship to a care receiver, allowing the caregiver to have a few hours break once a week. However, more supports need to be put in place for family caregivers. It is a struggle to create programs for caregivers. A lot of times caregivers like knowing that there are programs available but are not ready to utilize the program themselves for a variety of factors including guilt, time, etc.
Now more than ever caregivers are needing support due to COVID 19. Many people no longer have respite support through Homecare due to the risk of the virus, and are now caring for their loved ones 24 hours a day. There has been a significant increase in caregiver stress. We are looking to create supports for caregivers that are tangible, easy for them to access, and not take away the time that they don’t have. We seek to create a peer to peer telephone support program. This program would match a volunteer who is also a caregiver (past or present) with a caregiver who is caring for a senior who would be able to phone this volunteer once a week (or more if needed). It would provide the caregiver the opportunity to talk to someone who has or is experiencing the same thing they are and to provide support to each other. With this funding, we would be able to help support as many caregivers in Calgary as possible.
Who Will it Benefit?
Not only will these programs benefit caregivers themselves, it will also benefit those who are receiving care. Often those who are being cared for feel guilty for having to be cared for and if their caregivers have more support and reduced stress levels are reduced this would greatly benefit the care receiver as well. The programs will also support anyone supporting the caregiver because they will worry less knowing that their loved one is getting the support that they are needing. The awareness campaign will benefit any Calgarian who is care giving for a loved one and not realizing they are caregivers. This campaign will provide them with access to resources and support as the ultimate goal is to prevent anyone from burning out.