Grandparents and Kinship Family Caregiving

May 4, 2010
Hosted by Dr. Gordon Atherley

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Episode Description

Betty Cornelius and Sherry Johnson are kinship caregivers. Kinship caregivers are often grandparents, but they may be aunts, uncles, cousins, or others who are caring for children or youths in need of care or protection. Kinship caregiving is the full-time nurturing and protection of a child who is the caregiver’s kin but not a son or daughter. Betty and Sherry share with us their stories as grandparents as kinship caregivers. They talk about support groups they founded or have experience with. They identify the children’s health conditions that so often create the call for kinship caregiving. Drawing on their own experience, they pinpoint the challenges faced by kinship caregivers, and say what makes the challenges so difficult. They talk about the challenges to the health, quality of life and of kinship caregivers, how they personally deal with these, and the help and support they require. They offer advice for people who are just starting down the road they both travelled.

Family Caregivers Unite!

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Family caregivers are the people who provide care to partners, parents, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, neighbors and even co-workers. They are the people who provide care when everyone else has gone home. They are the people who organize the functioning of the home for the person with special needs, and for the family as a whole. They are the coordinators of care, the managers of appointments, the preventers of loneliness, and the makers of decisions even to the point of Power of Attorney. And they are so often people who themselves are burdened with their own health challenges and who may be in only marginally better health than the persons to whom they are providing family caregiving.

Dr. Gordon Atherley

Dr Gordon Atherley holds the British equivalent of the Canadian PhD and MD degrees, and LLD, Honoris Causa, from Canada’s Simon Fraser University. His awards include Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, UK. His medical specialties are occupational medicine and public health.
As first President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, the Canadian equivalent of the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, he led the creation of Canada’s electronic information service in occupational health and safety, now used in more than 40 countries.
In academia, he held senior, tenured, full-time positions, including departmental chair, in university faculties of physics, engineering, and medicine. He is the author of a textbook and numerous articles and publications.

Since retiring from medical practice, he’s built up Greyhead Associates, which critically researches the safety, effectiveness and fairness of health services for persons with special needs.
Through Virtual Care International, a company of which he’s President, he’s involved in providing sensible technology to family caregivers to help them with their responsibilities, workloads, and concerns.
Now an activist, he urges family caregivers to unite because, more and more, it’s not just their families who depend on them, it’s also the healthcare system as a whole, as it struggles to meet more and more needs of more and more people.

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