WINDSOR, ON, September 13, 2021 - After conducting a needs assessment asking caregivers of adults with mental illness how they can be supported, partners Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH), The University of Windsor and WE SPARK Health Institute will host its inaugural Caring for the Caregiver Conference in response to the findings.
Taking place on October 16 and October 23, the half day event will be held virtually from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at no cost to attendees. Participants will hear from experts on topics such as Navigating the Healthcare System, and Compassion Fatigue, as well as Consent and the Mental Health Act. Each day will also include connection and support from peer groups and an opportunity to engage with fellow caregivers.
“From the more than 75 individuals who took part in the initial study, came very insightful, often times emotional, information,” said lead researcher Dr. Edward Cruz from the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Windsor. “Caregivers shared how deeply impacted they are by their experiences, how their health and well-being is so closely related to that of their loved-one’s current state, and how hard it can be at times navigating the mental health and addictions healthcare system,” said Cruz.
The conference agenda was carefully curated based on these key findings, and will feature experts versed in the specific topics raised.
Because study participants largely reported feeling a great deal of stress and burnout as a result of caring for their loved ones, conference organizers have also ensured that portions of the two half-day sessions will be dedicated to education and activities on how to deal with these two areas of importance -- focusing on the caregiver’s own physical and mental health.
“The Caring for the Caregiver Study and now conference was an idea that originated through our Mental Health and Addictions Patient and Family Advisory Council,” explained Patrick Kolowicz, Director of Mental Health and Addictions with HDGH and Chair of the Council. “The group of more than 10 individuals, some caregivers themselves, noticed a need and acted on this. Caregivers, who often go unnoticed, are individuals that help our mental health and addictions system function. Supporting them is critical.”