April 7th is National Caregiver Day! Celebrated on the first Tuesday of April, this annual day of awareness has been unanimously adopted by the Members of Parliament of Canada to formally recognize the importance of the “invisible” unpaid work and the valuable contribution caregivers make to care recipients, our communities and our economy.

Today, approximately 8 million Canadians (that’s 1 in 4 Canadians) provide unpaid care to support someone with a long-term health condition, a physical or mental disability or other challenges relating to aging. While being a caregiver can be an incredibly rewarding experience, it can also be overwhelming physically, emotionally, socially and financially. In fact, 21% of caregivers spend 20 hours or more each week on caregiving responsibilities that can range from helping with daily activities to providing complex medical care.

This National Caregiver Day comes at a time when there is much uncertainty and unrest. On top of all they do, our caregivers must now navigate the impact from COVID-19 as they support the vulnerable and most at-risk individuals in our communities.

Caregivers are a vital part of our health care system (contributing $25 billion of unpaid care annually) and reduce the social cost associated with institutionalization. Under normal circumstance, caregivers already provide over 80% of the care needed by individuals with chronic conditions. If they become ill themselves, they may not be able to provide care. Now more than ever, we need to keep our caregivers at the forefront of our minds and show our support.

The theme of this year’s National Caregiver Day is Every Minute Counts, which reinforces the value of caregivers to Canadians. Whether you are lending a helping hand to a caregiver in your life or you are part of an organization that support caregivers, the time you give makes an impact in their lives.

“I think the Every Minute Counts theme really demonstrates the incredible impact unpaid caregivers make in our communities and our economy, and that more time needs to be invested back to provide caregivers with the support they need,” says Jennifer May-Anderson, Executive Director of Hospice Quinte. “Many individuals and organizations, like Hospice Quinte, already advocate and support caregivers by offering education and information, providing respite care when they need a break, and raising awareness and recognition of their invaluable contributions, but National Caregiver Day gives us the opportunity to rally together for caregivers on a much grander scale.”

To learn more about National Caregiver Day, pledge your time to the Global Caregiver Time Clock or access caregiver information, please visit CarersCanada.ca.

Hospice Quinte assists terminally ill individuals and their caregivers by offering them support and companionship. As we continue to monitor the ongoing corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic, Hospice Quinte’s Bereavement Support Groups and in-person Volunteer Visiting Program will be temporarily suspended until such time social-distancing is no longer recommended. Support for current community visiting hospice clients and client intake will continue by telephone.

Until further notice, the Hospice Quinte office at the Bayview Mall will be closed to the public. Staff will be on-site at the office to answer phone and email inquiries. The Hospice Quinte website is also open 24/7 and is accessible from the comfort of home! The “Information & Resources” section contains loads of valuable resources and information about hospice palliative care, caregiving, grief and bereavement, and end of life issues – visit HospiceQuinte.ca.

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“The care of the dying demands all that we can do to enable patients to live until they die.”

–Dame Cicely Saunders