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Frequently Asked Questions

In the Spring of 2017, we announced the exciting news that our proposal Connecting the Dots for Family Caregivers was selected to be part of The Change Foundation’s Changing CARE initiative. As one of only four proposals chosen across the province, we’re excited to be working closely with The Change Foundation and six of our local health care providers to improve the family caregiver experience in Huron Perth.

What is Connecting the Dots for Family Caregivers About?

We know being a family caregiver can be rewarding and fulfilling but it can also be challenging and a significant source of stress and anxiety. Connecting the Dots for Family Caregivers will bring partnering organizations together to listen to, learn from and act with family caregivers and health care providers to co-create supports, programs, and resources that address the needs of family caregivers and ensures they feel valued, respected, engaged and supported in their important role.

Who are the Health Care Partners Involved in Connecting the Dots for Family Caregivers?

There are six partnering organizations: Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) (Lead Organization); The North Perth Family Health Team (NPFHT); STAR Family Health Team (STAR FHT); One Care Home and Community Support Services (One Care), the Southwest LHIN (SWLHIN), and Alzheimer’s Society of Perth County.

Together, we are committed to improving the Family Caregiver experience as they support loved ones transitioning between health care providers.

How is this Initiative Being Funded?

Connecting the Dots for Family Caregivers is being funded by The Change Foundation (TCF) as part of their Changing CARE initiative. TCF is an independent health care think-tank that works to inform positive change in Ontario’s health care system. As part of their strategic plan, the organization is focused on improving the experience for Family Caregivers in Ontario’s health and community care systems.

What is the Timeline for this Work?

Connecting the Dots for Family Caregivers is a multi-year project which includes four stages:

Phase 1 - Planning (March - August 2017)

In this first year, the collaborative is focused on building the infrastructure to support the initiative, followed by Family Caregiver engagement. Engagement means reaching out to Family Caregivers to better understand their experience and what they need to feel supported in their role. We will connect with Family Caregivers using public forums, coffee chats and through one-on-one conversations.

Phase 2A - Developing the Framework (August to September 2017)

Results of Phase 1 will enable the collaborative to develop a detailed project framework in partnership with family caregivers and clinicians who will be represented within working groups/project teams.

Phase 2B - Experience Based Co-Design (October 2017 - March 2018) 

Create/recruit teams/working groups to co-design services and/or care pathways with staff and family caregivers.

Phase 3 - Pilot (2018) 

Pilot services and/or improvements with partner organizations.

Phase 4 - Rollout (Year 3) 

Rollout across Huron and Perth

What do we mean by Family Caregiver?

A family caregiver is defined as family, friends, and neighbours who provide personal, social, psychological and physical support, assistance and care, without pay, for family members and friends in need. This support can be provided for any period of time.

*adapted from the Change Foundation definition

What is Experience-Based Co-Design?

Experience-based co-design is an approach that enables staff and caregivers to co-design services and/or improvements, together in partnership. It involves gathering experiences from patients and staff through in-depth interviewing, observations and group discussions, identifying key ‘touch points’ (emotionally significant points) and assigning positive or negative feelings. Staff and family caregivers are then brought together to explore the findings and to work in small groups to identify and implement activities that will improve the service or the care pathway.

*based on definition provided by Point of Care Foundation

What Does Success Look Like?

Connecting the Dots for Family Caregivers aims to improve the quality of care and experience for caregivers, patients and health care providers.

Health care providers will be supported to:

• Communicate with family caregivers as an essential part of the care team

• Assess the needs of family caregivers to ensure they are understood and met throughout the care journey

• Recognize the value and contribution family caregivers make in the care of their loved one

• Educate family caregivers about the available resources and supports to ease their caring; educate myself, as a care provider, to engage with and learn from family caregivers

Family Caregivers will experience:

• Reduced stress and anxiety

• Reduced sense of feeling overwhelmed/isolated

• Decreased risk of family caregiver “burnout”

• Elevated sense of worth

• Increased confidence

• Retained sense of self and identity

• Improved self-care (sleep, nutrition, exercise, socialization)

• Improved state of physical, emotional and mental health

How Can I Learn More?

Follow the project on Twitter @CC_Connecting

Watch for regular project updates which will be shared across each of the partnering organizations.

If you have questions about Connecting the Dots for Family Caregivers, speak to your Manager or contact Jennifer Hubbard at 519 527 1650 ext. 4219 or jenniferhubbard@hpha.ca.

For more information on the Change Foundation click here.