If you support someone in need and feel anxious and overwhelmed with your caregiving responsibilities, you’re not alone. The Ontario Caregiver Organization (OCO) exists to support Ontario’s 4 million caregivers; ordinary people who provide physical and emotional support to a family member, partner, friend or neighbour. We support caregivers by being their one point of access to information, so they have what they need to be successful in their role.
Working collaboratively with caregivers, healthcare providers and other organizations, OCO draws on the variety of work that is currently being done to ease caregiver burn-out and improve the caregiving experience. We find ways to make existing services more broadly available so all caregivers, regardless of age, disease, diagnosis or location can access support. Where there are gaps, we work with caregivers and like-minded partners to find new and creative ways to fill them.
Collaborating with caregivers
The Ontario Caregiver Organization is inspired by caregivers, their stories and their unique experiences, and uses the caregiver voice to inform our work. Through our Caregiver Panel, Mental Health, Experienced Caregiver and Young Caregiver Working Groups, we actively engage and draw on the lived experiences from a diverse spectrum of caregivers to actively co-design and co-create programs, services and educational resources to best meet the unique challenges of caregivers across Ontario. Co-designing and co-creating effective programming with caregivers is the cornerstone of our approach to service and fulfilling our mission at the OCO.
Established in the Spring of 2018, the OCO is a charitable organization that is funded by the Ministry of Health.
OCO’s Land Acknowledgement
The OCO carries out its work while acknowledging the Indigenous Peoples of all the lands that we are on today. This land is home to many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples and acknowledging reminds us that our great standard of living is directly related to the resources and friendship of Indigenous people.
As team members, we are learning about the lands from which we work, exploring how we can be meaningful allies and how we can support the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We do this to reaffirm our commitment and responsibility in improving relationships between nations and to improving our understanding of local Indigenous peoples and their cultures.
While we connect through virtual platforms, we wish to invite you to reflect on the land where you are; if you are not familiar with that, you can use this interactive map that tells you which traditional territory a city or town sits on.
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access (IDEA) Statement
The Ontario Caregiver Organization (OCO) values the inherent worth of every person and all of our differences, including age, ancestry, disability, gender expression, gender identity, race, religion and sexual orientation. It also commits OCO to recognizing the “rights, respect, trust, co-operation, and partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples”, and to championing the “inclusion, diversity, equality, equity and accessibility in the learning, work and service environments”.*
*Note: The OCO credits the University Health Network (UHN) for their Diversity and Inclusion statement, upon which OCO’s is based.
Addressing Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action
The following call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation helps guide our work:
- We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.
Actionable steps OCO has taken towards fulfilling the Truth & Reconciliation Calls to Action:
- All OCO staff have participated in training provided by Indigenous community members to assist us in building greater awareness and ensure our programs and services are an inclusive space for Indigenous caregivers.
- All OCO staff have a personalized land acknowledgement for where they live and work which is used in our events and meetings.
- We recognize the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation as a team, enabling each team member to participate in local or online events to support learning and reflection.
- Many OCO team members took a self-directed course on Indigenous history and cultural safety (PHSA San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Online Training Program).
- OCO has reviewed and made changes to the language used in our communications, events, resources, and services based on the preferred language guidelines developed by the University of B.C. to ensure we are correcting common colonial terms.
- Our team seeks out and maintains meaningful partnership opportunities with Indigenous caregivers, service providers, and community members across the province as we continue to learn from their experiences which shape the services and resources we provide.
- OCO gathers insights and considerations from all caregivers, which shapes the feedback we provide to health system and community partners.
- We have worked with partners at Helpline to ensure specialists receive Indigenous cultural safety training and we have Indigenous language options through our interpretation service through our 24/7 Helpline service.
- We have compiled list of resources for Indigenous Communities on our website to support Indigenous caregivers.
- We have worked to include Indigenous voices on our podcast. Season 3, Episode 1: Walking Alongside Indigenous Peoples who are Seriously Ill: Education for Community Caregivers Curriculum. In this episode, Michelle Jobin is joined by Holly Prince and Jessica Wyatt to discuss CERAH, a Centre for Education and Research on Aging & Health at Lakehead University. CERAH was established in 1991 to develop and deliver educational programming to healthcare professionals. They discuss the four key research areas: Aging at Home, Dementia & Seniors’ Mental Health, Indigenous Peoples’ Health & Aging and Palliative Care. They both touch on their experiences with caregiving and what it means to them, and further topics centered around why this is so pivotal to Indigenous communities.
- We are partnering with Centre for Education and Research on Aging & Health at Lakehead University (CERAH) to adapt our Time to Talk pamphlet and I am a Caregiver Toolkit for Indigenous communities.