Family Caregivers and COVID-19 Precautions Caregivers Need to Take Now

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TORONTO, ON – March 14, 2020 – In response to the heightened measures being taken around reducing the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, The Ontario Caregiver Organization is releasing a list of pre-cautionary measures that family caregivers, those who support a family member, partner, friend or neighbour with a physical or mental health challenge, can take now to keep themselves and the person they care for safe.

“In Ontario, there are 3.3 million caregivers who play a critical role in our health care system by delivering ¾ of all patient care. As the situation around COVID-19 evolves, it’s important that caregivers have a contingency plan for delivering that care should they fall ill or require self-quarantine” says Amy Coupal, CEO, The Ontario Caregiver Organization.

Caregivers should take 3 immediate steps to ensure the continuity of care for the person they support.

1. Expand your circle of care. Think about who can step in should you need help. Ask other trusted family members, friends or neighbours if they can provide back-up support should you become ill or need to self-quarantine.

2. Document detailed instructions around the care that needs to be delivered. If you have someone coming in to provide care, make it very clear what needs to be done.

  • Provide contact information for your doctors, clinic, pharmacy etc.
  • List the names and doses of medications. Have enough medication for one or two weeks in case you cannot get to the pharmacy to refill prescriptions.
  • Ensure all your medications have refills available, so you do not have to leave the house if you become ill.
  • Have extra supplies like rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizers and soap to wash your hands.
  • Keep extra pantry essentials to ensure you and the person that you may be caring for have the necessary supplies to prepare healthy and nutrient rich meals.
  • Document a plan for greeting visitors in the home i.e. homecare. Keep your environment clean using disinfectants and ask visitors to use hand sanitizer when they enter.

3. Explore what technology can be used to support someone you care for when you can’t be in the same place at the same time. Leveraging technology is also a good way to mitigate feelings of isolation. Use it to stay connected to friends, family and your community.

“I would also encourage the public to care for the caregivers in their community” says Coupal. “Check in on people that you know are caring for another person. Ask if they need help, offer to pick up groceries or run errands. We can all play a role in supporting each other while this situation evolves”.

Caregivers can continue to get updates at Ontario.ca and Public Health Ontario. If caregivers need information about supports and services in their community, they can call the Ontario Caregiver Helpline. The 24/7 helpline is 1.833.416.2273 or they can access the live chat at ontariocaregiver.ca between 9am and 7pm Monday to Friday. More information about COVID-19 and what it means for caregivers is available on our website.

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About The Ontario Caregiver Organization
The Ontario Caregiver Organization (OCO) exists to support Ontario’s 3.3 million caregivers; ordinary people who provide physical and/or emotional support to a family member, partner, friend or neighbour. The OCO will enhance the caregiving experience by providing one point of access to information, services and supports that empower and enable caregivers to be successful in their role. Where gaps exist in caregiver programs and services, the OCO partners with caregivers, health care providers and other organizations to find new and innovative ways to bridge those gaps so all caregivers, regardless of age, disease or geographical location have access to the help they need. Established in 2018, the OCO is a not-for-profit entity funded by the Government of Ontario.

For more information, please contact:
Danielle Van Duzer
Executive Lead, Communications
daniellev@ontariocaregiver.ca
437.232.4512