What's in your Caregiver Preparedness Toolkit?
With unprecedented population aging combined with reductions in health care services the likelihood of one becoming a caregiver is on the rise. For many of us, it is really not a matter of if we will be a caregiver, but rather when and to what extent. According to the Canadian Caregiving Coalition there are approximately 8.1 million caregivers in Canada—that’s about 1 in 4 Canadians.
In the same way that we all need emergency preparedness kits to help us survive major environmental events, we also need to be prepared for the major shifts that occur in our families when someone needs a caregiver. In the same way you might have an earthquake preparedness kit, it’s time to start thinking about building your caregiver preparedness kit.
So, what do you need in your “Caregiver Preparedness Kit”?
A starting place is to begin to think about who is in your network—what gifts, abilities and/or skills can they bring?
Who needs to be informed if and when the big one (or the small one) comes? What other types of tools might you need in your kit—an advanced directive? A power of attorney?
Is it important to know relevant health information like blood type? Of course the information is essential but so too is the organization of this information so those who need it can access it when they need it.
There are many great organizations out there offering resources to caregivers in Canada. Check out Carers Canada for organizations supporting carers in Canada and throughout the world.
Meet Dr. Joanie Sims-Gould
Dr. Joanie Sims Gould and her team are adding significant weight to a previously slim body of research knowledge on home care in Canada—particularly for those 85 and older. Her work captures the voices and experiences of those who receive and deliver care in Canada. She is at the forefront of research in this emerging field. Dr. Sims Gould is an award-winning scholar in receipt of provincial and national research fellowships. She has published and presented extensively on issues related to older adults and their families.
Sims Gould, J., Tong, C.E., Wallis-Mayer, L. & Ashe, M.C. Reablement, reactivation, rehabilitation and restorative interventions with older adults in receipt of home care: A systematic review. Journal of the American Directors Association.
Ottoni, C., Sims Gould, J., Winters, M., Heijnen, M. & McKay, H.A. (2016). Benches become like porches": Older adults' perspectives of their neighbourhood built environment's impact on their walking behavior and social and physical health. Social Science & Medicine, 169, 33-41. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.08.044
Sims Gould, J., Byrnes, K., Tong, C. & Martin-Matthews, A. (2015). Home Support Workers Perception of Family Members of their Older Clients: A Qualitative Study. BMC Geriatrics, 15:165. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12877-015-0163-4
Tong. C.E., Sims Gould, J., & Martin-Matthews, A. (2016). Types and patterns of safety concerns in home care: client and family caregiver perspectives. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 28(2), 214-220. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/intqhc/mzw006