For Canada’s 8.1 million caregivers, there are many moments when they feel truly fortunate to have an opportunity to help their loved ones. It’s both rewarding and challenging – an expression of love and dedication.
Sometimes in the midst of carrying out daily responsibilities, the self-care of caregivers themselves slip far down on their list of priorities. That’s unfortunate because they face a high risk of isolation, emotional and physical health issues. As carer and social worker Lucy Barylak put it: “The burden of caregiving is tremendous and if you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel it can become very, very stressful.”
Caregivers are an essential part of the healthcare system now and in the future, with the incidence of chronic conditions and increasing numbers of older individuals. The forecast is that the need for caregivers will double in 30 years. They require and deserve to have support and resources available that will enable them to continue their vital work. In response, Teva Canada and Huddol (an online peer and professional support network for carers) have joined forces to address this urgent need.
The companies developed a comprehensive set of useful tools designed to create a vibrant online community of like-minded caregivers who understand the highs and lows that come with providing care to others. The resources were developed with the understanding that one in two caregivers feel unheard and misunderstood by the people around them.
Teva Canada’s designated caregiver site offers downloadable PDFs, videos of carers, a link to the Huddol site, and a search tool so they can find a pharmacist trained to support their unique needs. As Christine Poulin, general manager, Teva Canada, pointed out, “While there are some initiatives to help them, caregivers have fallen under the radar of our industry despite their critical role in the health journey of a patient.
TEVA’s resources strive to bring the needs of caregivers themselves to the forefront. They provide valuable insights about self-care and how to strengthen the relationship between pharmacist and caregiver by offering downloadable information, such as the My Caregiver Handbook. It is designed to help alleviate stress and anxiety by showing people how to navigate the healthcare system more efficiently, plus it includes local community resources and information about Huddol.
The site also includes essential legal information and guidelines for serving as a proxy for a patient, including a checklist to assist with the sharing of important information with pharmacists.
As well, caregivers can fill out a self-assessment form to flag for signs of burnout or fatigue and determine if they need help from a health care provider. It’s an ideal way for caregivers to check-up on their emotional well-being. Remember, good care starts by caring for yourself while you are supporting others.
“In talking with pharmacists and caregivers, we learned that each felt the other was so important, and yet their relationship was somewhat undefined and often very centred on just the patient’s needs,” said Poulin. “We saw a clear opportunity to help optimize the relationship between caregivers and the pharmacy team as a way to contribute to a better quality of life for caregivers and better outcomes for those in their care.”
The overarching message is you’re not alone in the caregiving journey: Take advantage of the easy-to-access supports, from downloadable resources to knowledgeable pharmacists. They’re on your team to help. While caregivers may be viewed as hidden patients, Teva recognizes your needs and your invaluable role in the healthcare journeys of your loved ones.
10 vital tips for caregiver self-care
Teva’s downloadable guides shine the spotlight on the importance of caregivers being able to live their best lives. Some of the tips provided include:
- Remember that you’re allowed to ask for support before you get to a place of feeling overwhelmed.
- Stay involved in activities that have meaning, including maintaining social ties.
- Make time for your own health needs, such as physical exercise, a healthy diet and regular medical examinations.
- Find downtime and get enough rest.
- Seek emotional support. You don’t have to handle everything alone. To avoid burnout is to have practical and emotional support from others.
- Beyond seeking support from your family and friends, consider participating in a caregiver self-help group. If you don’t have time to go to group meetings, explore online caregiver support resources.
- If you’re experiencing disturbing emotions or thoughts, consider seeking out the guidance of a counsellor or therapist.
- Give yourself permission to allow your role to flex and change as the care needs change.
- You may have to regularly take, then give back, responsibility for tasks. Remind yourself that you’re allowed to have care boundaries.
- Re-evaluate schedules and tasks as your needs and circumstances change.
– Presented by Teva Canada