Family and friend caregivers are the backbone of Canada’s health and social care systems. The support they provide is indispensable in enabling individuals with long-term health issues to remain in their communities. Caregivers take on a challenging role—one that can impact their physical and mental health, social activities, personal finances, employment and relationships (Health Council of Canada, 2012; Keefe, 2011). Caregivers’ health and wellbeing has repercussions for the care recipient, their family, their communities and the health care system. To support this critical role, caregivers need to be understood as partners in care, but also as potential individual clients of health and social care systems in and of themselves. Caregiver assessments are a key tool to identify and provide such understanding. Such assessments are used by health care practitioners to evaluate the degree and urgency of risk to the health and wellbeing of caregivers or to the deterioration of the caregiving situation. Through assessments, practitioners can more efficiently and appropriately target interventions and supports such as psycho-social counseling and prepare for changes in care. This Policy Brief makes the case for the integration of caregiver assessment in home and long term care services and provides research-based evidence from the literature and studies using the Caregivers’ Aspirations, Realities, and Expectations Tool (C.A.R.E. Tool). Home and long term care policy can no longer afford to remain solely focused on persons needing care. Recognizing caregivers as partners and clients is crucial to supporting the care situation. In this, assessment tools have a critical role to play.

Bibliographic Notes

This Policy Brief was prepared by J. Keefe, N. Guberman, P. Fancey and T. Krawchenko with support from Research Assistants, A. Bourdon and S. Nadeau.