Written by Wendy Johnstone, Director of Programs and Innovation, Family Caregivers of BC (FCBC)
A million British Columbians are without a regular primary care provider and are experiencing long wait times at medical clinics.1 While the government is working with its partners to improve access to primary care and bring fundamental change to the siloed healthcare system, family caregivers continue to be the heroes as they pick up the pieces where healthcare sometimes can’t. Day after day, the demands on caregivers grow as they continue to navigate complex systems, bridge information gaps, and provide more and more care to their loved ones.
And it’s taking a toll. A big toll. Family caregivers are tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, and feel at a loss on what else they can do. It’s incredibly unfair and yet, as one caregiver said to FCBC staff, “Life isn’t fair, and yet you do what it takes”.
How can you, as a caregiver, continue to provide care when it feels like you’ve hit a dead-end with services? Or when it feels like you’ve done everything you can but it still feels like it’s not enough?
Know it’s not you. Caregiving is becoming more and more complex with fewer available resources in a healthcare system facing challenges. Sometimes, there isn’t a service or solution for your circumstances. As hard as that is, acknowledging this fact can bring some peace of mind that you are doing everything you can for the person you are caring for.
It’s okay to have feelings. You’re not alone in feeling frustrated, exhausted, angry, or overwhelmed. Many of us struggle to cope at one point or another as caregivers. It’s normal to go through a range of emotions during difficult times. It also helps to remember that however you are feeling doesn’t have to last. Give yourself some grace.
Recognize how strong you are. Day in and day out, you are tackling a caregiving role among many other responsibilities. Take a step back and reflect on your situation as a story with a strong and resilient main character finding a way through challenging times. Need a boost or reminder of how strong you are? Reach out to a trusted and caring friend or family member, connect with a peer group, or call our Caregiver Support line. When we feel less alone and supported, our resilience is strengthened.
Share our experience. We know it’s a big ask. When you tell and share your story, it has such an impact on others. Never underestimate the power of change – big or small. Watch for opportunities to participate in research studies, provide feedback to your local health authority, or to share your story to support advocacy and policy work through FCBC’s Caregiver Voices Panel. Your voice, your story is so important and can help transform our healthcare system.
We see and hear all the care you are providing, with love and because of relationships. You deserve more. There may not be a magic wand to make your caregiving circumstances easier, but know we are all here at FCBC striving to improve the landscape for all caregivers – from our services and programs to policy work to influence change.