Seizure Response Dog Guides and Family Caregiving

June 15, 2010
Hosted by Dr. Gordon Atherley

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Episode Description

Hastings Saunders is a 9-year old boy with epilepsy. His mother, Sandra Saunders, found him a seizure response dog guide. It was trained by the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides Training Centre, where Ian Ashworth is Program Director. Sandra talks about the family’s experience with seizures. She explains what led her to think of a dog guide, and about the particular challenges of seizures that she hoped it would help with. Hastings talks about the dog, Manny, and how it fits into the family. He describes how Manny helps him. Ian discusses the work of Dog Guides Canada in the training of seizures assistance dog guides. He talks about the challenges of seizures that the dog guides are trained to help with. He explains how the dog guides sense a seizure, and describes the response they are trained to provide. All three explore the ways they believe would enable more children who have seizures, their families and their family caregivers to be helped by seizure response dog guides.

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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