Shining a Spotlight on (Ontario) Caregivers

Originally posted

The Change Foundation just published their findings on Ontario Caregivers- a fitting reflection for National Caregiving Awareness month. I have summarized some of their key findings based on a study involving 800 respondents across Ontario:

– Canadian family caregivers provide roughly ¾ of all patient care and their contributions to the healthcare system was estimated at 25 billion per year.
– Caregivers spend on average 11-30 hours of care per week
– 83% of carers are taking care of one person and 17% are taking care of more than one
– 46% are caring for parent or inlaw
– 15% are caring for their grandparents
– 7% are caring for children with exceptional needs
– Majority of care is provided to someone with aging issues and 17% provide care to someone with Alzheimers
– 41% of carers have been providing care for at least 3 years
– While 90% of caregivers speak English as their primary language, only 67% of those they care for speak English as their first language
– 72% of carers provide emotional support and 68% provide transportation as the two top tasks
– 42% of carers provide basic medical tasks (changing bandages, monitoring medication) and 21% take part in medical procedures such as changing G tubes, changing wound dressings and giving injections
– At least half of caregivers believe those they look after would not have the same quality of care if they were not involved
– Half of caregivers feel overwhelmed by having to organize the circle of care and a strong majority wish there was somewhere they could go for advice
– Even when providing physical care, less than one in five have received any hands on training
– 45% of caregivers say cost was the biggest barrier to getting additional support, followed by 32% who said it was lack of information
– When more information is needed, 58% of caregivers turn to the internet, 44% turn to friends and family, and 28% turn to healthcare providers. Surprisingly, only 9% approach disease-based charities for information
– Overall, most caregivers feel that being a caregiver strengthens their relationship and commitment to their loved one and makes them feel rewarded. That said, three-fifths
admitted they are doing this because they have no choice, and two-fifths feel trapped, helpless and frustrated at times.
– Three-quarters feel they are coping at least generally well with their caregiving responsibilities. However, only one-fifth feel they are coping very well. There are many aspects of caregiving they find to be stressful, particularly dealing with the declining health of their family member, meeting the needs of their family member as well as managing their own emotions
– Half of all carers have not spoken to their doctor about their ability to emotionally or physically handle the care job
– Half feel their personal time, social life and ability to care for themselves has been negatively impacted both physically and mentally
– Two-fifths have seen a negative impact on their financial situation, particularly those looking after a child or spouse
– Many have had to take time time off work for caregiving and some have lost their job
– More than half of workplaces try to make concessions to allow their employees to handles these other responsibilities, but one-third of caregivers say their workplace doesn’t even try
– Young carers (ages 16-24) tend to downplay their role, they are less likely to consider themselves as a caregivers.

I am not sure there were any big surprizes for me with this data but it certainly highlights the important (nonpaid) job that many people find themselves in. I am always glad to look at ways to better support this community as I anticipate that these numbers are only going to grow over the next few years.

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