Family caregivers are individuals who provide care and assistance, without pay, to family or friends with debilitating physical, mental or cognitive conditions. These unpaid caregivers are an integral, yet often invisible, part of British Columbia’s health care system. Research shows that an estimated 70-75% of home care many adults receive in Canada is provided by a family caregiver – and in BC the majority of these individuals are caring for a chronically ill or disabled senior. Along with BC’s aging population, the prevalence of unpaid family caregiving in the province is expected to grow. Doctors of BC believes that physicians and government can play leading roles to support family caregivers and include them as partners in care.
Circle of Care: Supporting Family Caregivers in BC, developed by Doctors of BC’s Council on Health Promotion, contains a number of commitments and recommendations that enable family caregivers to be included as partners in care and provide resources for physicians to better support family caregivers. Included in the five Commitments made by Doctors of BC are:
- Work with the BC Government and key stakeholders to develop a strategy that formally recognizes caregivers as partners in care, and establishes principles that require the consideration of caregiver needs in health and social service planning and provision.
- Develop practical resources to help physicians enhance supports for caregivers and to include caregivers as partners in care.
- Raise physician awareness of the role they can play in recognizing, including, and supporting caregivers.
Accompanying the policy paper is a physician Tool Kit developed as a resource for physicians to better support family caregivers. The tool kit provides practical suggestions for physicians to:
- Identify caregivers
- Involve caregivers in patient care
- Monitor the health of caregivers, and
- Provide information and support to caregivers
Caregivers who are healthier, recognized for their contributions, and included in patient care plans can positively impact the health outcomes of the people they care for. By taking care of patients in their homes – patients who would otherwise be in hospital or long-term care facilities – family caregivers are reducing the burden on our health care system while saving the system money.
For the full policy paper, please click here.
Download the Tool Kit for Physicians and the Resources for Caregivers note sheet.