The Champlain CCAC's Annual General Meeting scheduled for June 18, 2014, will focus on the essential role of caregivers. Keynote speaker Nadine Henningsen, President of the Canadian Caregiver Coalition, will build on first-person accounts from local caregivers and identify opportunities for recognizing supporting family caregivers as partners in care.
Dee Campbell, 77, is typical of many caregivers. When her husband Bill, 86, was diagnosed with dementia five years ago, she assumed his care needs with barely a second thought. "I just did what needed to be done and never thought of asking for help," she says matter-of-factly. Married for 43 years, the spirited senior rose to the challenge of caring for her husband at home.
As Bill's condition slowly progressed it became harder for Dee to manage his complex health needs. In addition to dementia, Bill has suffered two heart attacks and has osteoarthritis. "I had to be talked into using respite care because I'm the kind of person who was going to do it all myself."
Dee credits her deep Christian faith and the support of caring health professionals, including Champlain CCAC Care Coordinator Melanie Neale with helping her access support and plan for the future. A Care Coordinator is a regulated health professional who assesses care needs and develops a care plan to meet individual needs. This may include nursing or personal support, and links with community supports such as Meals on Wheels.
"Melanie not only looks at my husband as the client, but she also understands where I'm coming from as a caregiver and she knows the dynamics of our family," explains Dee.
Dee hopes to use her personal journey as a caregiver to help others. She is a member of the newly established Champlain CCAC Client and Caregiver Council which aims to embed the caregiver voice throughout the organization - and ultimately improve the care experience for clients and their families.
"With an aging population and increasingly complex care needs, caregivers will continue to play an increasingly essential role in the health-care system," says Gilles Lanteigne, Chief Executive Officer for the Champlain CCAC. "This year's AGM is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on caregivers and their needs."
Approximately 98% of home care clients have an identified caregiver. Research shows that 9 out of 10 caregivers find caregiving rewarding. But stress increases for spouses - especially those caring for someone with cognitive problems such as dementia or Alzheimer's.
Dee's beloved husband Bill is now in a long-term care facility – his care needs became too advanced to maintain him at home. Dee says she is grateful for the support she received helping manage this transition.
"In looking back, I would never have thought two-and-a-half years ago I'd be where I am now. There have been so many people that have been involved in helping us get to where we are today and I'm very thankful for that."
Click here to listen to Dee Campbell's story and learn about her journey as a caregiver.
Read more about the Champlain CCAC Client and Caregiver Council.
- 98% of Champlain CCAC clients have an identified caregiver.
- 9 out of 10 caregivers find caregiving rewarding. (Sinha 2013)
- At some point in their lives, nearly half of Canadians (46%) aged 15 years and older had provided care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, disability or aging needs. (Sinha, 2013)
- The majority of caregivers are coping well. (CIHI, 2010a)
- Caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's and dementia and end-of-life present higher levels of emotional distress than other caregivers:
- 23% of caregivers are providing care at the end of life.
- 40% of caregivers are caring for someone with Alzheimer's or related dementia. (CIHI, 2010A; CIHI, 2010B; The Change Foundation, 2011)