Art as a language for caring

February 7, 2012
Hosted by Dr. Gordon Atherley

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Guest Information

Episode Description

Martha Eleen is an artist whose work has been exhibited in the US, Canada, Mexico and Japan. She’s created an art show about Gabe, her son with special needs. She describes the show and explains what he says about it. She describes her most difficult challenges in caring for him. She describes his most difficult challenges. She highlights the way in which the language used by people who don’t know either of them amounts to a form of systemic bias. She describes the importance of sound in his life and his happiness in his caring environment of an extended family of caregivers. She explains the stresses of family caregiving and how she is able to maintain her life as an artist. She says what more she would like to do and see done in communities to promote art as a language of communication for families with members with special needs. And what she wants to see happen so that persons with special needs are treated as individuals with interests, ambitions and abilities.

Family Caregivers Unite!

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.

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Dr. Gordon Atherley

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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