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Feb '10

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Good news for caregivers

Kristine Berey

December, 2009

According to the Care-ring Voice Network, there are more than 500,000 caregivers in Quebec who provide 80 per cent of the care needed by loved ones with health problems. Over 60 per cent of these people juggle work and home responsibilities. Many are in danger of burnout and 25 per cent suffer from depression.

Help may be on the way as early as next year through a newly created fund designed to help caregivers in a private/public partnership that is said to be unique in Quebec’s history.

On November 23, family and seniors minister Marguerite Blais and André Chagnon, philanthropist and owner of Sojecci II Ltd., launched the $200-million fund, of which $150 million will be financed by Quebec, and $50 million by the Chagnon family. The money will become available over 10 years and will be managed by an administrative council made up of five members named by Quebec and five by the Chagnon family foundation. Three quarters of the funds are earmarked for caregivers helping loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive deficits while one quarter will be used to help caregivers of people with other incapacities.

André Chagnon and Marguerite Blais photo: Kristine Berey

According to the Quebec Federation of Alzheimer’s Societies, 120,000 Quebecers are affected by the illness, and 140,000 might develop Alzheimer’s or a related impairment within the next five years.

Caregiver resource centres, based on a British model, will be set up across the province, with the aim of providing quick and easy access to services already established in the community. The money will not go to caregivers directly but rather to organizations already in place that support them. “We’re not going to invent new structures,” Blais said. “We will check all the projects that exist.”

Herb Finkelberg, director of the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors, welcomed the news. “We are seeing a dramatic increase in individuals who are cognitively impaired. The caregiver is at risk of compromising their health because of the incredible amount of energy caretaking requires. The idea here is to prevent this kind of deterioration from taking place. This is much-needed funding for a problem of which we’ve seen only the tip of the iceberg.”

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