TORONTO, April 12, 2013 /CNW/ - In late 2011, the federal Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care released their report, Not to be Forgotten: Care of Vulnerable Canadians. The committee recognized that the issue of family caregiver support needed to be addressed, as "as family caregivers really are the unsung heroes of compassionate care in Canada", providing 70% - 80% of care in Canadian homes and communities. The report states, "Family caregivers face significant physical, emotional and financial stresses in carrying out their tasks. Caregivers need recognition and support (financial, informational, emotional, respite, legal, etc.) in carrying out their care giving role. As the population ages and as more people require care, we must look at ways to support and sustain the precious resource of family caregivers; giving them the tools they need to carry out their vital role, while maintaining their health and equilibrium".
A month later, the Declaration of Partnership and Commitment to Action was released in Ontario. This document written by over 80 stakeholders in hospice palliative care in the province, stated, "Key supports for families and caregivers are lacking or inconsistently available".
St. John Ambulance has developed a new Home Caregiver Support Program to address these needs. The overall goal of the program is to provide information and assistance to non-professional caregivers who are providing care for family members or friends suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses within the confines of their own home. Caregivers can include other family members, partners, parents, children, and close friends.
In keeping with hospice palliative care philosophy, the program addresses the physical, psychological, social, spiritual and practical issues faced by caregivers while looking after their loved ones at home. Topics include home care, symptom management, dealing with emotions and stress management experienced by caregivers. Other sessions provide information on supports in the community, advance care planning and how to encourage inner spiritual strength.
The program is based on A Caregiver's Guide - A Handbook About End-Of-Life Care, published by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and The Order of Saint Lazarus. Program development and additional content was written by Dr. Robert Boyko, a Family Physician, Assistant Professor with the University of Toronto, and Provincial Medical Advisor for St. John Ambulance, Ontario.
As part of the community service arm of St. John Ambulance, the program is free for caregivers to attend. Respite care may be available to look after the patient while family/friends attend. "Canadian caregivers are the invisible backbone of the healthcare system, providing $25 billion in unpaid care." - Canadian Cancer Society. With this unique program St. John Ambulance, extends the training of Canadians to address the important end-of-life needs, often forgotten.
For over 125 years, St. John Ambulance has been training over half a million Canadians annually in first aid and other health care related courses and remains dedicated to improving lives at work, home and play. With nearly 20,000 volunteers contributing over one-million hours of community service a year, St. John Ambulance is an integral part of the community offering such unique and innovative programs as: medical first response, disaster response, health and safety related youth programs and therapy dog services. As a charitable, humanitarian organization, proceeds from St. John Ambulance's first aid training and first aid product sales directly support these vital community services programs. For more information on St. John Ambulance training courses and volunteer opportunities/services or to contact your local branch, visit www.sja.ca
SOURCE: St. John Ambulance Toronto
For further information:
Director, Provincial Operations (Ontario)
St. John Ambulance
15 Toronto Street, Suite 800
Tel. (416) 923-8411 ext. 243