Workshop to help caregivers avoid burnout
By Jenn Watt
Our communities and our health-care system relies on unpaid caregivers – the spouses, adult children, friends and neighbours who step up to provide care for loved ones.
Sometimes, that help can stretch on for months or years, become a full-time job for some, and cause the caregiver additional stress.
“The stress you’re experiencing having to watch that person and make sure they’re safe, that’s where the struggle happens, emotions and all that stress. It’s about chronic stress, really,” said Melissa McNamara with the Central East Local Health Integration Network.
McNamara is organizing a free six-week workshop called Powerful Tools for Caregivers starting Aug. 27, which meets every Tuesday for an hour and a half in Haliburton.
“It’s for any caregiver, but what we’re trying to do is avoid the burnout,” she said.
McNamara described burnout as “total physical and emotional exhaustion,” when the caregiver feels overwhelmed by day-to-day activities, and enjoyable things no longer bring joy.
In the beginning, caregivers might tackle their new challenge in the way they handled tending to a child home with the flu: staying home and dedicating all of their time to look after them. But over time, this level of exertion can cause problems.
“A lot of times what happens is caregivers get so overwhelmed by what they’re doing and become burnt out that they become ill themselves,” she said.
Powerful Tools for Caregivers gives attendees permission to take care of themselves and learn the skills they need to manage the situation, things like how to navigate conflict and protect your own boundaries.
McNamara said organizers with the Central East LHIN noticed several years ago that there wasn’t enough being offered for caregivers and she and a colleague travelled to the U.S. to train in the caregiver support program.
“We’re actually the first organization in Canada to deliver this workshop,” she said. Workshops have been delivered within the region, but never in Haliburton.
The workshop (and accompanying workbook) is free, paid for by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and can accommodate up to 12 people. This workshop is geared to adults taking care of adults, though those who care for children with complex needs could also benefit. Scenarios addressed include things like downsizing, having discussions on long-term care, and when it’s no longer safe to drive.
Powerful Tools for Caregivers runs every Tuesday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. from Aug. 27 to Oct. 1 at Haliburton Highlands Health Services, Haliburton site in the Ruth Parkes Room. Pre-registration is required. Call 1-866-971-5545 or visit www.ceselfmanagement.ca.