Confession – I am not a family caregiver. My mother lives nearby and is well taken care of by family members and I admit that I don’t visit nearly often enough.
My inspiration for the magazine Who Cares comes from working in the publically-funded health system for 20 years. During that time, I met with hundreds of family caregivers, support groups, churches, seniors associations and other groups who seek information about the health system and how it works because they find it confusing to navigate.
While the provincial government provides some home care services, only 30 percent of home care is provided by the provincially funded system and the remaining 70 percent is provided by informal caregivers. Eighty percent of that caregiving is provided by family (55% by child or child in law and 25% by a spouse) and the remaining 20% is provided by friends and neighbours. Caregivers spend an average of 11 hours per week providing care. Fifty-three percent of caregivers are women and 47 percent are males.
Family caregivers are a vital part of society. They are important to their loved one(s), for the healthcare system, and to the economy. According to Health Quality Ontario’s 2017 Measuring Up Report, caregivers are expressing anxiety. They need information, services and products to help them manage their caregiving duties.
There are many excellent sources of information, products and services available to help family caregivers. Many are small independent businesses who do not have the expertise or the budgets to generate the awareness they deserve. Additionally, the government is not comfortable promoting organizations that they do not fund in their literature or on their information and referral websites.
Most of the larger health system players now only post information to their website or social media feeds and consider that communication has taken place. I believe that you have to bring the information to the public rather than expecting them to come to you for help. The internet and social media are important communications tools, but it depends on who you are trying to reach.
That is where the magazine Who Cares comes in. By distributing 30,000 copies of the magazine through newspapers and offering a digital and hardcopy subscription option, I hope to build a community of people who need information, products and services and connect them with the people who can provide that information, products and services.