Please join The Ontario Caregiver Organization in welcoming Amy Coupal as CEO. I had the chance to sit down with Amy to talk about her caregiving experience and what she’s most excited about in her new role.
Q. Amy, on behalf of The Ontario Caregiver Organization, welcome! We’re thrilled to have you join the organization and excited for the opportunity to sit down with you. Tell us a bit about yourself and what drew you to this role?
A. Thank you, I’m really excited to be joining an organization that is solely focused on the needs of caregivers. I’ve been a caregiver since childhood so I have an understanding of how rewarding it can be, but also the many challenges caregivers face. Growing up, I helped my parents care for my brother who had Cerebral Palsy. Looking back, I would never have thought of myself as a caregiver but I was. My brother relied on all of us for all of his personal care and as a family, we each did our part. I was fortunate that my parents involved me in that care. In my adult life, I cared for my mother through her cancer journey and my father, who is now alone and needing support. I was drawn to this role because it feels so much to me like a culmination point around my caregiving experience and an opportunity to support Ontario’s caregivers in a meaningful way.
Q. What are you most excited about in your new role?
A. The single biggest reason I’m excited about this role is because I see a huge opportunity to empower caregivers. Sometimes when we’re navigating the complexities of caregiving, we forget that we have a choice about what kind of caregiver we want to be and what kind of care we can provide. I want caregivers to feel empowered when they make these choices. I want them to have the information they need. I want them to be represented in the system. I want them to have the resources and support they need. I want these things so that we honour the commitment and sacrifices caregivers make. There is so much we can do to connect caregivers, to support them and to represent them in the system and it is a privilege to be able to do that.
Q. What are some of your own self-care strategies?
A. I know when my tank is empty and when I need to take time. Caregiver boundaries are so important. You have to have boundaries around the role so you can sustain your own health and energy to keep providing the care you want to give. A quiet cup of coffee, yoga or even a quick game of Bingo with the family. These are the things I need to recharge and be the best caregiver I can be.
Q. What do you want caregivers to know about you?
A. I want caregivers to know I understand the lived caregiving experience, but I also want them to know that I don’t know their individual caregiving experience. Every journey is unique. I’ve had 3 distinct caregiving experiences in my life and they have all been different. I want them to know that we are here to support them. We have important and exciting work ahead and I’m passionate about it. I’m excited to embrace this role so that we can make a difference for caregivers. Lastly, I want caregivers to know that we want to hear from them. We need their input, in whatever way is meaningful and easiest for them. I look forward to engaging caregivers in our work.
More about Amy
Amy has been a not for profit and education leader for more than 15 years. Amy’s unique experience of mobilizing change through knowledge sharing, as well as her experience building new partnerships, collaborations and initiatives, will help caregivers access support regardless of their loved one’s condition, age or where they live. A caregiver herself, Amy is excited to embrace the opportunity to enhance the caregiving experience by empowering caregivers with information, bridging silos and contributing to system reform. She is a mother to twin boys who are 7. With her boys and husband Brad, Amy loves to travel, cycle and play a good board game.