Caregiving in Other Countries- What We Can Learn

international

Each November, National Family Caregivers Month focuses on the challenges facing family caregivers. Sponsored each year by the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), this commemorative month recognizes more than 50 million family caregivers who spend an estimated 30 billion hours every year providing emotional, financial, nursing, social, homemaking, and other services to friends and loved ones. The estimated value of these caregiving services, if paid, would cost upward of $522 billion a year, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

While caregiving is not always without joy, it is also never without sacrifice. For many, caregiving takes a toll on emotional well-being, physical health, careers, and quality of life. There is also a lack of support and training for caregivers (although resources do exist). Are these truths about caregiving the same everywhere, or just in the US? Below, we will explore two other countries and see for ourselves.

United Kingdom (UK)

According to Carers UK, and based on recent census research, around 6.5 million people (1 in 8 people) in the UK provide care on an unpaid basis for a relative, friend, or neighbor in need of support due to old age, disability, frailty, or illness. Forty-five percent of caregivers have given up work to care for a loved one, and many more are juggling caregiving, work, and family.  While caregivers save the UK economy an estimated £119bn (149 billion U.S. dollars) a year, 49% of caregivers are struggling financially themselves.

With big legal changes in the Care Act 2014 coming into force in April 2015 in England, caregivers in the UK will be looking ahead to new rights and services.

Canada

According to the most recent General Social Survey on Caregiving and Care Receiving, there are more than 8 million caregivers in Canada. Most are women between the ages of 35 and 44 that are part of the “sandwich generation” — they help parents or parents-in-law, while also having at least one child under age 18 living at home.

In Canada, the most common type of help, provided by 73% of all caregivers, is transportation to run errands, shop, or attend medical appointments, and 22% of seniors who receive caregiving support live in care facilities, including assisted living and long-term-care homes. About half of caregivers in Canada report that they are feeling some psychological distress, for example depression or isolation.

In Canada, 19% of caregivers receive some form of financial support. Help from family and friends was the most common at 12%, followed by government programs at 7% and a federal tax credit at 5%. Training for caregivers is pretty accessible in Canada, and is available through online courses and university offerings.

Last week, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, announced significant reforms to the Caregiver Program that include ending the live-in requirement, and providing eligible caregivers who are not Canadian citizens with two pathways that will lead to permanent residence within six months.

No matter where you live, caregiving for a loved one can be rewarding, and both emotionally and mentally taxing. During National Family Caregivers Month, and always, please encourage your family caregivers to take advantage of services that offer respite and support, and thank them for their strength, courage, and commitment in providing long-term patient care.

At the Farr Law Firm, we recognize that caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. If you’re a caregiver, take steps to preserve your own health and well-being.  Part of taking care of yourself is planning for your future and for your loved ones. Please call us at our Fairfax office at 703-691-1888, at our Fredericksburg office at 540-479-1435, or at our DC office at 202-587-2797 to make an appointment for a no-cost initial consultation

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