Caregiver Perceptions of Support Programs in Calgary
Research Giving Voice to Caregivers of People of the Age of 55
As Canadians continue to live longer and subsequently require extended support in older age, the work of caregiving largely falls on the shoulders of family, friends, and other informal supports.
The responsibility of informal caregiving can be both rewarding and challenging, as loved ones of older adults balance the obligations of their everyday lives with the 24/7 responsibility of ensuring the well-being of the care recipient.
As policy and practice development in Canada further promotes a model of aging-in-place for older adults, the responsibility to ensure that caregiver needs are being met relies on community support.
With funding from the New Horizons for Seniors Program, the Kerby Centre recognized the need to evaluate gaps in current community supports for caregivers in the municipal context of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. This study was designed to give voice to caregivers of older adults, offering a platform to discuss perceptions, needs, enablers and barriers related to accessing community support. A mixed-method research design was conducted, employing semi-structured interviews with 10 participants, as well as surveys.
Four key themes were identified; 1) Financial Support (both informal and formal); 2) Awareness (related to both available programs, and how to access or utilize these); 3) Support (specifically the symbiotic relationship between informal and formal support systems); and 4) Coping (considering the multifaceted nature of coping with caregiving responsibilities, and how each impact the other).
Insights from caregivers’ experiences aim to inform policy reassessment of municipal supports, as well as expose gaps in current programming, whereby the Kerby Centre and collaborations such as the Caregiver Support Action Team in Calgary, can assess future action plans.