Imagine that you just started a new job.  You’d probably expect that you would receive training, or receive some peer support from people around you that know how to do the job.  If you were left without training or support, imagine how frustrating and stressful it would be to work through all of the day-to-day issues on your own.  Taking on these tasks may come naturally to you, but you could use some tips or professional advice on how to do your job with confidence.

Now imagine that your job is providing care for your spouse, ageing parent, family member, friend or neighbour.  You’re the best person for the job because you care, and you give your time, your patience, and have the best understanding of the care your loved one needs.  But how do you learn new things?  How do you take on new responsibilities for care as your loved one’s needs change?  How do you care for yourself?  How do you manage?  This is a challenge that family caregivers face every day.

Are you a caregiver?  Caregivers are everywhere in our community, and look after people they are connected to.  They may be young caregivers dropping in to look after grandparents on a weekly basis.  They may be busy with a full-time job and a young family, but are also looking after their ageing parents on a daily basis.  They may themselves be seniors, looking after their spouse or sibling or parent dealing with a chronic health condition 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Caregivers support their family members, friends and neighbours through their health journey, whether it is a short-term illness, accident or surgery, or a long-term chronic health condition, cancer, dementia, or palliative care – whatever the need may be.  There are many stages of caregiving, and whether it’s by choice or by chance, caregivers often take on the responsibilities willingly, with love and compassion.

With COVID-19 affecting our communities, caregivers have lost their lifeline to in-person community programs and services, have fewer opportunities for respite care, and may not be comfortable bringing outside help into their homes.  Caregiving can be time consuming, challenging, often without recognition or support, and for many it is a full-time job.  In these times of restricted family and friend visits, caregivers are feeling overwhelmed, distressed, and need support. Community support services agencies offer virtual programs to support clients and their caregivers to fill that gap and stay connected, but more support is needed.

The Champlain Community Support Network partnered with the Champlain Dementia Network and United Way East Ontario to launch the Eastern Ontario Caregiver Strategy. With caregiver distress at an all-time high, the strategy recognizes a need for better education resources for caregivers.

Caring At Home:  Caregivers need help – but finding time and resources can be overwhelming.  Caregivers can find learning tools, resources, and self-care help through the Champlain Community Support Network’s online education platform called Caring At Home.  CCSN has partnered with Trualta – Caregiver Education Specialists – to bring evidence-based learning and resources to caregivers in our community.

Ready for the Holidays! Caregivers can register to use the learning system free of charge, and have access to a learning library of videos, articles, music resources, and much more.  Learn on your own time, at your own pace, from a home computer, tablet, or smartphone.  Topics on the platform include providing personal care, dementia, stroke recovery, music therapy, and self-care topics.  Just in time for the holiday season, new modules are available to help you with planning activities and festive music therapy.  Caregivers who would like to access a free account can visit caregivingathome.ca to register.

If you are a caregiver, or know a caregiver who would benefit from online learning and resources, find more information at caregivingathome.ca