Unpaid caregivers, the family and friends caring for people at home, are the backbone of the health care system. They provide ongoing care for those with chronic illnesses at home, often with limited supports. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a particularly challenging and isolating time for many caregivers, as a number of the programs and services they rely on are not available. Frontline workers at home care organizations see the hard work and the challenges of these amazing caregivers first-hand.
For over 15 years, VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) has been trying to provide a little support for unpaid caregivers by celebrating their efforts with the Heart of Home Care Awards. “When I found out Anwara won the award, I was just so thrilled, because she really deserves it,” says Alison Byworth, VHA nurse speaking about 2020 Heart of Home Care award winner Anwara Siddique. “I don’t know how she does half of what she does. She really puts her mom first all of the time.”
On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, National Caregiver Day in Canada, the Heart of Home Care event will once again celebrate unpaid caregivers with the announcement of this year’s award winners. This year’s event will be held virtually and will feature programming specifically designed for unpaid caregivers trying to cope during the pandemic with tools to support themselves and their loved ones and to manage caregiver burnout.
The programming includes:
A workshop from the Regional Geriatric Program of Toronto on the Stretch, Lift, Tap program developed for older adults living with mobility restrictions to provide practical ways to add more movement to the activities of daily life.
A mindfulness session to address burnout and help caregivers let go of the many roles they play and connect with their own inner well-being, delivered by Gillian Forsyth, yoga and iRest teacher who works with schools, hospitals, treatment centres and corporate offices to support healing and well-being.
A guided presentation of the Heart in Mind activation therapy toolkit, a free guide to engaging loved ones with dementia with feelings-based activities, presented by VHA physiotherapist and Heart in Mind co-creator Brandi D’Souza.
The winners of this year’s Heart of Home Care Awards in three categories will be announced with special heartwarming tribute videos that share their stories.
This year winners are being recognized in three categories:
Caring and Giving Back – recognizing a caregiver who isn’t just an amazing support for their loved one, they are also sharing their knowledge of their journey to help inform and guide others who may face similar challenges; Young Caregiver – celebrating the extraordinary efforts of a friend or family member who is under 25 years of age; and Caring with Compassion – recognizing the extraordinary efforts of a friend or family member who has gone above and beyond in providing support needed to live at home with more independence.
“The Heart of Home Care awards and this event are one small way we can show our support for unpaid caregivers and recognize their incredible resilience and care,” says Kathryn Nichol, President and CEO at VHA Home HealthCare. “Their role in our health care system is critical and we can never take it for granted.”
The Heart of Home Care event is free but registration is required. To learn more and register for the event, please visit: https://www.vha.ca/news/national-caregiver-day-event/.