3.3 million Ontarians (29 percent of the population in Ontario) are caregivers for family members, partners, friends and neighbours. These are average Ontarians who are frequently balancing their own paid employment with the unpaid responsibilities of taking care of the health, emotional and practical needs of someone else.
Caregivers are a relief valve for the health care system. Nearly three in ten caregivers perform medical treatments such as tube feedings, wound care and injections, as well as providing emotional support, doing household tasks, scheduling appointments, and arranging transportation.
All this is a heavy burden for caregivers. A recent survey of Ontario caregivers found that one in three is not coping well emotionally. Those caring for someone with a mental health issue are even more likely to struggle with their own emotional health.
When you’re busy caring for a someone in need, where do you turn to get help for yourself? The Ontario Caregiver Organization recently launched a toll free helpline (1-833-416-2273) and live online chat for caregivers. Callers are put in touch with Community Resource Specialists who can help them with information and referrals to local resources, such as support groups and respite care.
The Ontario Caregiver Organization reached out for our help setting up a plan to measure the impact of this service on caregivers. They wanted to ensure that clients came away from a call to the helpline feeling like they could better take care of their own physical and emotional health while caring for another. They wanted a way to monitor this as one of their key performance metrics.
Cathexis set them up with a plan to capture this information from caregivers who interact with the Organization through any touchpoint, including the helpline and online chat, website, and the many resources and live events that the Organization will deliver. There were a few knots to untangle, such as how to measure the impact of a brief intervention such as a phone conversation, and how to gather this information sensitively, knowing that many caregivers could be reaching out to the Organization in a time of distress.
In the end, we devised a versatile performance measurement plan that would give the organization a solid sense of whether its services are resonating with Ontario caregivers. As the Organization expands its services and resources, this performance measurement plan can be adapted to grow alongside them. We’re looking forward to seeing how this new service is received by caregivers.