More than 8 million Canadians provide care to a chronically ill or disabled friend or loved one, according to Statistics Canada. Being a caregiver can be stressful and can affect the caregiver, as well as the caregiver’s family, friends and workplace.
May is Caregiver Awareness Month in Nova Scotia and Wednesday, May 25, marks the first Caregiver Appreciation Day at Dalhousie, with a lunchtime event from 12-1 p.m., Room 3207, Mona Campbell Building. All faculty and staff are invited to come share their experiences and support one another as caregivers.
“As a caregiver myself, I understand what it’s like to be in that role as well as work a full-time job,” says Janice MacInnis, manager, organizational health and facilitator of Dalhousie’s Caregiver Support Group. “There are many challenges, but it is also one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had, taking care of my father.”
The results from Dal’s 2015 Quality of Work Life survey indicated stress as an area of concern for employees. Stress at work can come from work — but also from home, and the creation of a Caregiver Support Group on campus is one wellness initiative that aims to help reduce stress for faculty and staff who are caregivers.
There for support
The Caregiver Support Group meets monthly on campus and includes faculty and staff from all campuses. The group brings in caregiving experts, provides support to one another and exchanges resource information.
“Living with my 86-year old mother, husband and 17-year old daughter, I often find it a challenge to be daughter, wife and mother all at the same time, says Kim Stewart, a staff member with the College of Continuing Education and a member of the support group. “When the stress gets too much, I look forward to getting together with my fellow caregivers here on campus who understand the challenges of trying to be all things to all people while dealing with the demands of our jobs here at Dalhousie.”
Human Resources has developed Caregiver Support Guidelines to help managers and supervisors provide flexibility and accommodation to faculty and staff who are in a caregiver role. The guidelines are in draft form and feedback is welcomed. Please send your comments to Janice MacInnis, Janice.firstname.lastname@example.org or 494-4568.
“I am blessed to be a caregiver to my 92-year old mother,” says Paula Beed, also a member of the support group and a staff member with Information Technology Services (ITS). “The caregiver support group at Dal provides a safe and supportive place to discuss the ups and downs of caregiving. It’s therapeutic to talk about your situation with like-minded people and hearing what others are experiencing helps me put my situation into perspective. I always leave the meeting feeling refreshed and energized.”
If you are a caregiver or know someone who is, caregiver information is available on the HR site, under Health & Wellness/Caregiver Resources. For provincial information, visit Caregivers Nova Scotia.
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