Schizophrenia and Family Caregiving
October 12, 2010
Hosted by Dr. Gordon Atherley
Chris Summerville is a director of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Debbie Sirota is a single parent of Tamara, aged 24, who lives with schizophrenia. They discuss services for persons with schizophrenia and their family caregivers, identify challenges the services respond to, and explore experiences. They examine the role of the family caregiver in the various stages of schizophrenia. They discuss the ways in which family caregivers become eyes, ears and voice for the persons they are caring for, and explore the special challenges this responsibility creates for family caregivers. They talk about quality of life for persons with schizophrenia and their family caregivers. They speak frankly about situations in which persons with mental illness suffer from depression, experience stigmatization, and get into trouble with the law. They identify the things that make the sun shine for them personally. They say what changes want to see to bring better support for family caregivers.
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.