If our healthcare systems are going to change for the better, we have to start agreeing on this one indisputable truth: Family care IS healthcare.
If you don’t believe me, consider the facts:
In Canada alone, we have 8.1 million family and friend caregivers. As caregivers, we dispense 75% of all the care required for loved ones who have a health issue. This amounts to 2,400,000,000 hours of care annually at a value of $25 billion per year. That’s the total GDP of El Salvador.
Despite this, when I say ‘healthcare’ to you, I bet your first thought is a person in a white coat with a stethoscope around their neck. We need to be the first to change our thinking about healthcare, because this prevailing thought bias is simply untrue, and a disservice to our collective caring work.
The likelier and more common healthcare provider is a person like you and me, in their home, or in the home of a loved one or friend, living day to day with the reality of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Bi-Polar Disorder, Cancer, Autism, or any number of the thousands of health issues that turn a parent, a spouse, a child, a grandparent and a sibling into a caregiver.
If you don’t know what I mean, you will, because very few escape the inevitability of “I’m sorry to tell you but your loved one has __________________________”. The blanks are too numerous to name. That’s why the number of caregivers in this country could fill more than 200 average-sized football stadiums. In less than 30 years, there will be 8 million more joining the fray.
By all reasonable definition, when you become a caregiver you become a healthcare provider; you dispense medications, you coordinate care, you make life and death decisions. In sum, you put the welfare of someone else in your hands with the goal of making them better.
But there are no medical degrees hanging on your office wall, or fancy gizmos in your medical lab, and certainly no paycheque at the end of your tireless and relentless work. There’s just the experience of moving through a life unplanned, and a gauntlet of big choices with few resources.
You might be asking yourself: How will shifting our perspective to include caregivers as healthcare providers get us the help we need? I’m glad you asked and I want to show you why this shift could mean so very much to all of us.
In the spring of this year, after years of contemplation, planning and development, The Caregiver Network is going to launch Huddol. Huddol is one of the most ambitious caregiver support projects ever attempted in this country. Huddol is predicated on one very important and deeply held belief: Your voice and your experience as people, caregivers, and yes, as healthcare providers counts…big time.
It counts in the way you overcome challenges despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It counts in the way you search out health information anywhere you can to make your decisions the very best they can be. It counts in the way you pull and scrape together help even when there’s so little fruit on the support tree. And it counts because you count, because your 2.4 billion hours of free healthcare every year means that millions of patients have someone watching their back and keeping them sane, safe, and secure.
We can’t wait to bring you Huddol. You can join us before our broader public launch by visiting www.huddol.com. Huddol is the next evolution in our expanding commitment to create a better pathway for the future of healthcare. A future, that if we have any say, will have you, our caring and devoted community of 8.1 million family and friend caregivers, right smack dab at the center of it all.