Imagine care that looks out for the family caregiver, too

Saint Elizabeth celebrates National Family Caregiver Day

MARKHAM, ON, April 7, 2015 /CNW/ - Caring for family, it's in our DNA. These days, it seems like everyone is doing it yet family caregivers and their needs are often overlooked. According to Saint Elizabeth, a leading expert on caregiving, that needs to change.

About 80% of care in the home is provided by family and friends. Caregiving activities range from providing transportation and helping with household chores, to personal care. Currently, one in four Canadians is a caregiver; of this group, the majority is in the workforce, representing 35% of employed Canadians.

"Caregivers are ordinary people who do extraordinary things," says Shirlee Sharkey, CEO of Saint Elizabeth. "Our goal is to ensure they are not facing this challenge alone."

Together with its Foundation, Saint Elizabeth has a long history of working with caregivers to design and expand innovative social programs to make the everyday caregiving experience better.  These include:

  • Leveraging technology such as Tyze Personal Networks to help people care for others. Tyze is an easy way to get organized, keep everyone informed, and share the care with family and friends. Individuals can create a Tyze network and use the service for free.
  • Helping to relieve caregiver stress and burnout by providing more than 170,000 hours of free home care support so family caregivers can take a break.
  • Offering spiritual care and emotional support to families through a unique multi-faith chaplaincy program that makes 4,000 visits annually
  • Supporting caregivers with extensive DIY education and resources, in print and online.
  • Championing national awareness as a signatory partner of the Canadian Caregiver Coalition.

As Canada's largest social enterprise, Saint Elizabeth has also made a strategic commitment to research – $10 million over 10 years – to advance health care knowledge and practice. According to Sharkey, caregiving has been a natural area of focus for the Saint Elizabeth Research Centre.

"As a health care provider, we've worked with family caregivers for more than 100 years," she explains. "Today, we are extending this approach to our research, partnering directly with caregivers to combine the rigour of inquiry with the richness of people's lived experiences in order to support practical and meaningful outcomes."

In the groundbreaking study, Caring for Caregivers, Saint Elizabeth researchers teamed up with caregivers to identify promising practices for caregiver education and support. To support organizations in applying this knowledge to new and existing programs, the Research Centre produced and distributed resources to partners across Canada.

Currently, the Research Centre is sponsoring a patient and caregiver-led study in collaboration with the PACER program at the University of Calgary, which will explore the impact of caregiving on spousal relationships.

Let's recognize and celebrate family caregivers! Throughout the month of April, you can join the national conversation on Twitter @SECaregiving or by tweeting #careandwork.

About Saint Elizabeth
Saint Elizabeth is a national health care provider that has been opening the door to new possibilities and care experiences for more than a century. Recognized as Canada's largest social enterprise, we employ 8,000 people and visit 18,000 clients every day.  Through the Saint Elizabeth Research Centre, our Health Career Colleges and the Saint Elizabeth Foundation, we are helping to make the future of health care brighter and stronger. Learn more at or find us on Twitter at @StElizabethSEHC.

SOURCE Saint Elizabeth Health Care

Video with caption: "Video: Family Caregiver Perspectives: Sara Shearkhani and Carole Ann Alloway". Video available at:

For further information: Media contact: Madonna Gallo, Head of Public Voice,, 905-968-6430


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