Jeff: This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Barb MacLean, the Executive Director of Family Caregivers of BC. Welcome to our interview series, Barb. Can you please tell me more about your organization and how it provides support for caregivers? Barb: Thank you, Jeff! The mission of Family Caregivers of BC is to improve the quality of life for family caregivers through support, information, and education. We provide leadership to strengthen the voice of family caregivers and the significance of their role. Our provincial organization provides support through one-on-one emotional support, caregiver support groups, health care system navigation resources, podcasts, webinars, workshops, and free information such as our eNews, blogs, and Caregiver Connection Magazine. Caregivers need support too!
Jeff: Barb, we have some clients that are caregivers who could really use your services. What is the best way for them to get started with FCBC in terms of support? Barb: The BC Caregiver Support line, and the FCBC website are both resources that are free to use and offer help with:
· Information and referral to resources
· Healthcare navigation
· Emotional support
· Access to support groups
· Access to webinars, articles, and resources specific to your needs
CAREGIVER SUPPORT LINE: 1-877-520-3267, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm PT, Monday to Friday
FCBC WEBSITE: www.familycaregiversbc.ca
Jeff: I noticed on your website that the FCBC has a lot of resources. Can you describe some of them? Barb: Everyone’s situation is a little bit different. The Resources and Education section of our website is where anyone who is a caregiver can learn the skills and information needed to be successful in their role.
A great place to start is the Caregiver Learning Center where caregivers can select whether they want to read information, listen to podcasts, watch videos, or take a free online class. The Learning Center offers free resources in everything from accessing community resources, financial information, legal information, healthcare navigation, and much, much more.
Jeff: The sandwich generation seems to be the latest that falls into the caregiver position even though they may not consider themselves one. What services do you have for someone that falls into this category? Barb: It’s very common for people NOT to identify themselves as a family caregiver and caring for kids and parents at the same time is one of the most stressful types of caregiving because you get pressure for your time and attention from both directions– hence the term “sandwich”. We have created a document called New to Caregiving: How to Prepare and What You Need to Know flipbook for caregivers just starting out.
Anyone who is in a caregiver role and being pulled in a multitude of directions could also benefit by creating a caregiver support plan. The one thing that is certain about caregiving is that nothing is certain. That is why having a caregiver support plan can be very helpful. Creating a personal caregiving plan is driven by the needs of the caregiver and is tailored to what will give each individual caregiver the greatest support to reduce emotional and physical stress. We have many resources for building resilience and reducing stress for any stage of caregiving, Check out the Caregiver Well-being section, just one of 16 themes in our Learning Center.
Jeff: Can you give me a couple of real-life scenarios of how the FCBC has helped to reduce stress for caregivers that have reached out to you? Barb: Absolutely! Joan was a “sandwich” caregiver, who was smart, capable, frustrated, and very, very tired. She said she felt so alone until she discovered our organization. After calling our toll-free line, and spending time with one of our Caregiver Coaches, she learned how to navigate our health system, access home support services, and convince her father to accept support at home. Joan created her own wellness plan after attending one of our educational webinars. She shifted her behavior to prioritize her own health and put her exercise class back into her calendar. She also created a family calendar and “chore choice” board to get the whole family pulling more weight. Joan said, “I wish I’d known about FCBC sooner. I had no idea there was so much out there for me. I don’t feel so alone, and I feel much stronger.”
Alexander was a caregiver for his wife living with a chronic disease for 8 years, regularly saying, “I’m fine”. He was actually feeling very lonely and didn’t feel like burdening his friends with his day-to-day caregiving challenges. He eventually decided to attend an FCBC support group for family caregivers and hasn’t looked back. He said, “The support group is a lifeline for me. I look forward to each session, knowing I’m in the company of other people who get what I’m going through.”
Jeff: Those are great examples and could really apply to many people. What about older seniors that are caring for their spouses and are sometimes not very internet savvy? How can they find your organization and take advantage of all you have to offer? Barb: The first best step is by calling the Family Caregivers of BC toll-free caregiver support line at 1-877-520-3267.
We also print and distribute hard copy versions of our quarterly newsletter throughout the province at regional healthcare facilities. Just call us and we’ll add you to our mailing list! We will also mail out hard copies of our resources, depending on what each caregiver’s needs are. Give us a call. We’d love to hear from you, and we’re here to help.
Jeff: Thanks for your time, Barb. The FCBC has many resources available for family caregivers and I will definitely keep your organization in mind when I come across clients that are caregivers who need support.
Barb: I appreciate you reaching out and thank you as well for allowing us to share information about our services and programs.