May is Family Caregiver Month, an opportunity to join millions across the country to recognize and celebrate the vital role of family and friend caregivers. Their role is significant, giving over 80% of the care when we need it, yet they are often unrecognized, unsupported and underappreciated.
Family Caregivers of BC (FCBC) is part of a National Caregiver Recognition Working Group, together kicking off year 3 of the Caregiver Aware Campaign. Although we have different days and weeks in addition to the month of May to recognize caregivers across Canada, we are fortunate to have a strong, committed core group of champions with FCBC, Caregivers Alberta, the Ontario Caregivers Organization, Young Caregivers Association, RANQ Quebec, Caregivers Nova Scotia, RBC iCARE and researchers with Caregivers4Change. The May campaign follows National Caregiver Day in Canada—April 6th—in which Carers Canada led a national campaign. Together we are growing our impact.
The Caregiver Aware Campaign is focusing on four key themes: : Mental Health & Caregiving, Financial Impact of Caregiving, Work, School and Caregiving, and Caregivers as Essential Partners in Care. Our research and service data showed that these four areas were most important to caregivers. Our FCBC COVID-19 Survey revealed that what was hard, got harder since the pandemic hit. For example, over 50% of caregivers reported their mental health was worse since the initial March 2020 lockdown. Now, more than ever, we need to help link caregivers to support, education and information that will bolster their well-being.
What can YOU do? Are you a caregiver? Do you know someone who is? Please help to make some noise and increase awareness of unpaid family and friend caregivers. Reach out to your networks—family, friends, neighbours and workplaces—through email and social networks. Explore resources yourself and pass them on. Many caregivers don’t self-identify, and many don’t realize that there are resources and supports available. You can also use the hashtag #caregiveraware2021 when posting and raising awareness.
Visit our website to view and download the Caregiver Aware Media Kit, to see what we are featuring each week in May, and to connect to a broader Caregiver Community. There are Caregivers Out Loud Podcasts, webinars, Zoom support groups, newsletters, articles, learning modules, Caregiver Support Plan worksheets and much more. And, if you or someone you know could use a friendly ear and help finding resources, call our toll-free BC Caregiver Support Line Monday to Friday, 1-877-520-326.