Ontario’s health providers bring insight to the other side of caregiving

Health care is often grounded in human interactions, chiefly between the health provider and the patient and in some cases the family caregiver.

Under its strategic plan, The Change Foundation (TCF) has already worked hard to acutely listen to the experiences of family caregivers in the health care system through the first phase of The Caring Experience. Now, TCF is getting ready to share insight from the other side of caregiving coin: Ontario’s frontline health care providers.

Led by Senior Program Associate Frances Roesch, TCF met with nearly 200 frontline health providers—including doctors, nurses, physical therapists and personal support workers—from each of Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks.

“It’s been such a pleasure to connect with these individuals,” says Frances. “Each provider brings such a unique perspective and all recognize the role and the importance of family caregivers.”

To get to the core of the experiences providers have when they interact with caregivers, Frances has been leading tailored two-hour sessions designed to encourage providers reflect and share the most salient issues. The majority of each session is used for discussion, however each provider is also asked to do a letter writing exercise that asks them to jump 10 years into the future to envision a health care system that fully supports patients and family caregivers.

“Providers and family caregivers agree on a number of fronts,” says Frances, “both groups want to see a health care system that is more supportive and treats everyone more equitably.”

Significant themes have already emerged from this activity over the short term. For example, challenges and opportunities to work with family caregivers vary greatly by health care setting, and many providers have noticed the lack of formal processes for caregiver assessments.

The full results will be released by TCF this Fall, which will incorporate results from a provider survey running parallel with the engagement sessions. For those providers interested in completing the survey, click here.

“There are still a lot of quite compelling findings to share, however it’s still a bit premature to give away too much as more analysis is needed,” says Frances.

As Ontario’s health care think tank, it is imperative that TCF explores all sides of the caregiving issue to ensure we have full understanding, and to facilitate a balanced approach in taking our next step – working with system partners and caregivers to fundamentally change how the health system interacts with and supports caregivers.

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