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RFA--Informal caregiver education: Best practices for empowering caregivers, Echo: Improving Women's Health in Ontario

Toronto, Ontario
Deadline June 1, 2010

RFA Number: KT2010-02

Goal: To determine the current best practice programs and/or tools which provide education to informal caregivers and to create recommendations for cost effective caregiver education support priorities for a range of informal caregivers across Ontario. The purpose of this project is to learn what strategies exist which support caregiver education, what organizations are offering the supports, and to recommend best practices. This project builds on the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care’s 2008 Workshops “Caring about Caregivers”1 and will inform Echo’s future work and engagement with others interested in caregiver support.

Background: Informal caregivers (20% of all Canadians 2) across Ontario provide health care to family and friends, with little formal training or support. In Canada, this work represents over $80 billion in unpaid labour.3 Given Ontario’s aging population, the demand for informal caregiving will grow, while the capacity of informal caregiving is projected to decrease.4 This role is critical, yet it places a great deal of strain on the caregiver. About 65% of informal caregivers are women, the vast majority of whom are over the age of 45 and employed themselves.5 The burden of caregiving often results in: stress, depression, emotional strain, loneliness, decline in physical health, and financial losses.6 Because of this burden, it is important to build inclusive supports that will assist a wider range of informal caregivers.

A variety of supports currently exist for informal caregivers, offered by a diverse range of organizations. These include: the Community Care Access Centres, the Victorian Order of Nurses, The Family Caregiver Newsmagazine, the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, and numerous employers.

These supports have been classified into:

  1. Informal support from family and friends;
  2. Support groups;
  3. Educational strategies;
  4. Linkage services;
  5. Formal respite; and
  6. Psychotherapeutic approaches. 7

Many informal caregivers do not use these supports.8 Echo is requesting that applicants focus on supports which are classified as “educational strategies”, knowing that some of these may also overlap with other categories, such as “support groups” and “linkage services”.

Educational supports provide informal caregivers with information, knowledge, coping strategies, skills, and competence to help them cope with and address the multiple and competing demands and stresses associated with the role. The topics can range from tax advice, information about financial resources, coping strategies for caregivers, administration of medicine, operation of assistance devices, and navigation of the health and social service systems. The format of educational supports ranges from formal education, to group discussions, websites, brochures, handbooks, and DVDs.

Objectives: The following objectives are mandatory. Applicants are welcome to submit additional objectives.

  1. To describe in detail the support tools, models, and programs offered in Ontario which are primarily designed to educate informal caregivers. These educational tools, models and programs may also support linkages with health care providers and provide social supports.
  2. To describe in detail exemplar support tools, models, and programs offered in and outside of Ontario that are designed to educate informal caregivers. These educational tools, models and programs may also support linkages with health care providers and provide social supports.
  3. To gather this information (for Objectives 1 and 2) from the literature where possible and from key informants (which may include: educators, agency workers, informal caregivers, and researchers).
  4. To develop recommendations regarding best practices for education supports for informal caregivers in Ontario.
  5. To offer insights for knowledge translation, policy changes, programming, or research that will cost-effectively build informal caregiver education support.

Methods: We suggest the following methodological approach. Applicants are welcome to suggest additional or alternate methods.

  • Literature review, including accessing grey literature.
  • 10-20 key informant interviews, drawn from: educators, agency workers, informal caregivers, and researchers.
  • Articulation of best practice recommendations, including recommended indicators.
  • Validation of recommendations with informal caregiver focus groups (2-5 focus groups).

Special requirements:

  1. The project team must include at least one informal caregiver.
  2. The successful applicant will be asked to develop a project steering committee. This committee should include, among others, one representative from Echo and one representative from the Ontario Caregivers Coalition. Other committee members should be drawn from across Ontario.

Echo requires that those considering applying for this RFA should contact Leigh Hayden (lhayden@echo-ontario.ca, 416-597-9687 ext. 222) by: June 1, 2010.

Application Deadline: June 28, 2010, 4:00 p.m.

Announcement of Funding Decision: September 30, 2010

http://www.echo-ontario.ca

Project Completion: April 30, 2011

Budget: We anticipate that the work will require funds of no more than $50,000. Applicants must develop and submit a budget that justifies the proposed project and its costs as part of the application. Please note that one of the assessment criteria will be value for money.

See this RFA online at http://www.echo-ontario.ca./echo/en/component/content/article/154.html.

**Please see accompanying RFA Application Guide**

1 Change-Ability. 2008. Caring About Caregivers: Policy Implications of Long-Range Scenario Planning. Report prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.

2 Pyper, Wendy. 2006. Balancing Career and Care. Perspectives on Labour and Income 7(11):5-15.

3 Zukewich, Nancy. 2003. Unpaid informal caregiving. Canadian Social Trends 70:14-18.

4 Change-Ability. 2008. Caring About Caregivers: Policy Implications of Long-Range Scenario Planning. Report prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.

5 Pong, Raymond. 2008. What Would Happen If Informal Caregivers Go on Strike? A Discussion Paper Prepared for The Change Foundation.

6 Ibid.

7 Montclam, Denise. 1995. Caregivers: Resources and services. In Matching People with Services in Long-Term Care, ed. Zev Havel and Ruth Dunkle, 181-200. New York: Springer Publishing Co.

8 Ibid.