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Caregivers: Essential Partners in Care

 

Proceedings from the Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving, Disability, Aging and Technology (FICCDAT)

June 16-19, 2007 Toronto, Canada.

Click here to download the proceedings

 


Family caregivers provide care and assistance for spouses, children, parents and other extended family members who are in need of support because of age, debilitating medical conditions, chronic injury, long term illness or disability.  Family caregivers are the invisible backbone of the health and long term care system in Canada. 

 

With the existing health human resource shortages and a growing aging population in Canada, the contribution of caregivers is essential.

 

 

4-5 Million

Caregivers

 

 

There are at least 2.85 million Canadians providing care for a family member with long-term health problems (Cranswick, K. 1997 "Canada's Caregivers," Canadian Social Trend).   As this statistic is derived from 1997 data, it is believed that 4 - 5 million would more accurately reflect the number of caregivers today.

 

 

Contribute $5 billion in unpaid labour to our health care system

 

Caregivers provide more than 80 percent of care needed by individuals with ‘long-term conditions’ and it is estimated contribute more than $5 billion of unpaid labour annually to the health care system (Fast, J., Niehaus, L., Eales, J., & Keating, N. 2002a, A profile of Canadian chronic care providers).   The changing demographics and aging population are expected to place further burdens on caregivers.

 

 

Majority are women, between 45 to 64

 

 

In 2002, more than 1.7 million adults aged 45 to 64 provided informal care to almost 2.3 million seniors with long-term disabilities or physical limitations.  Most of these caregivers were also in the work force, with 7 out of every 10 caregivers in this age range were employed, and many were women (Statistics Canada 2002, Balancing career and care).

 

 

Spend $80 million / year on caregiving expenses

 

 

 

More than one third of caregivers report extra expenses due to their caregiving responsibilities (Cranswick, K. 2003, General Social Survey, Cycle 16: caring for an aging society).   Two-thirds of these caregivers are spending more than $100 per month on caregiving (Health Canada 2002, National Profile of Family Caregivers in Canada - Final Report).This is conservatively translated to an annual cost to Canadians of $80 million.

 

 

Economic value of $6-9 billion

 

The economic value of caregivers’ unpaid eldercare to the Canadian economy is estimated to be over $5 billion and between $6-9 billion for all caregivers (chronic and palliative care) unpaid work. (Fast, J., Niehaus, L., Eales, J., and Keating, N. 2002a, A profile of Canadian chronic care providers).

 

 

Impact our economy

 

All employers can expect to have employees who will assume caregiving responsibilities which will have an impact on the employment relationship.  Individuals providing four hours or more of care per week were more likely to reduce their work hours, change their work patterns or turn down a job offer or promotion. Among this group, 65% of women and 47% of men who were working over 40 hours were substantially affected (Statistics Canada 2002, Balancing career and care).

 

 

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