A series of reports focusing on carer needs in Ontario have indicated
increasing distress among informal carers, sometimes referred to as family caregivers.
To better support carers at risk of burnout, the Ministry of Health and
Long-Term Care provided $20
million in funding for enhanced respite programs to be developed and
implemented across the province, including in-home respite services delivered by the Mississauga Halton CCAC.
Respite gives carers a chance to take a break and
temporarily step away from their caregiving role to focus on their own health
and wellbeing, so they can continue safely caring for a loved one at home.
Since December 2016, we have provided in-home respite services to nearly 400 carers across the Mississauga Halton region. Here's what they had to say about their experience.
"For eight years, I've been a caregiver to my wife who has Alzheimer's. In recent years, the disease progressed and I was not able to leave her alone for more than ten minutes. Before we started receiving in-home respite supports through the Mississauga Halton CCAC, I found it hard to do any running around, and I had to give up volunteering in the community. I was scared to be away for too long. My care coordinator, who is absolutely wonderful by the way, helped me create a schedule where I had time to myself every other day; some days my wife goes to a day program, other days a respite worker comes to our house and reads to her. I used to be so nervous to leave my wife alone, but now I can do what I need to do outside of the house and not worry as much. I know everything is under control. My wife has really bonded with her support workers, and I'm finally able to take short breaks. We'll never get back to normalcy, but this helps a little. It's such a great thing for both of us."
"I've been a full-time caregiver to my mom for the last five and a half years. She lives with me. When it's your parents you care for, it's so sad. It's sad to remember how she used to be and see how she is now. I feel overwhelmed often because her care is truly 24/7, so when my Mississauga Halton CCAC care coordinator told me about new in-home respite services, I was hopeful. I knew I needed a break… even just a few hours so I could go have coffee with a friend, or run an errand. My family and I schedule our entire lives around Mom's care needs. Eventually, it takes a toll on everyone. And yes, I feel guilty when I have to leave Mom, but when I return, I feel better and stronger. I know it's the best thing for both of us. Respite gives me freedom. It gives me a chance to not worry about how Mom is doing; I know she's in good hands. She laughs with her workers; they're very affectionate. Ultimately, I wish I had this service sooner, and now that I do, I am forever grateful. It means a lot to my entire family."
"My husband has dementia, so he requires constant care – 24/7. I've been seeking respite support for a number of years, so when my care coordinator told me about a new service through the Mississauga Halton CCAC, I was ecstatic; it's such a much-needed resource for many people like me. Having the respite services for the past few months has already helped us incredibly much. Now, I am able to go out and get done what I need to get done, whether it's groceries or going to my own doctor's appointments. I finally have some more freedom. I like that the hours are flexible – scheduling visits is always easy. While my husband doesn't like me leaving, he enjoys his time with his support worker. It helps that she's the same PSW for his other care. That continuity is good for him. Honestly, I really couldn't ask for anything else."
"I am the primary caregiver for my husband. Before I started receiving the in-home respite supports from the Mississauga Halton CCAC, I was exhausted. I was so close to burning out. It's really hard being his only caregiver as I have my own health issues, too. The respite hours give me back some freedom and independence. With this support, I am able to attend a writing class every Wednesday, while not having to worry about how my husband is doing at home. It's nice to have time to myself doing something I love, which is only possible because I know my husband is getting great care while I am away. He gets along pleasantly with his respite worker. This extra support has been a blessing for us both."
For more information:
If you or someone you know would benefit from respite care, please call 310-2222 (no area code required) to get connected to a care coordinator in your community.
Please also check out our Carer Support Guide; it's a one-stop-shop resource where carers, at any chapter in their caregiving journey, can go to learn more about their vital role and how they can help their loved one live his or her best quality of life at home.